If you’re applying for an apprenticeship, you need to demonstrate to employers that you have the passion and skills to take the programme and fit in with their company.

Employers will use different recruitment processes depending on the company, the field, and sometimes the job role. It’s not always as simple as uploading a CV.

We’ve put together some guidance to help you know what to expect when applying and help you be as prepared as possible.

First-stage recruitment processes

There are different stages of recruitment. Initially, the employer will want to see a written snapshot of why you’re interested in the job before inviting you to meet them. This can include:


A CV allows you to summarise your qualifications and experiences in one document. It’s a way for employers to get to know you and your experience.

If you’re considering an apprenticeship, you should always write a CV. Even if when you start going through recruitment processes they use a slightly different application process – having a good, up-to-date CV is a bank of your experience which you can then adapt.

More about writing a standout CV

Covering letters

Covering letters, or cover letters, are a chance to expand on what you’ve written in your CV and showcase why you want to work for that company in that specific role. Whereas a CV is a snapshot of your experience, your cover letter is a chance to demonstrate why you’re passionate and sell yourself.

More about writing cover letters

Kerry, senior recruiter at Cognizant

Don’t just focus on technical skills, make sure to include soft skills, they are so important in a working environment. Read the job description carefully so you know which ones exactly they’re looking for... Provide examples of where you can demonstrate these skills.

Application questions

Some companies choose not to use CVs and cover letters and instead will ask you specific questions to understand your experience. For example, they may give you a box with a character limit and ask you something along the lines of:

  • Summarise why your skills are a good fit for this role?
  • Why are you passionate about working for us?

Application questions are designed to be more bespoke to the company than a CV or cover letter. They’re trying to get you to answer specifically to something relevant to them. So, make sure you really understand the question and apply it to the company.

More about identifying your transferrable skills

Psychometric tests

Psychometric tests are a way of assessing skills and personality. They’re commonly used in fields such as engineering or maths, particularly in larger employers where there are a lot of applications per role. You need a certain score to pass through to the next round.

There are two types of psychometric tests:

  • personality tests which show employers how your personality would fit in the organisation
  • aptitude tests which test your skill set

For example, numerical reasoning (how you work with numbers) and verbal reasoning (how well you understand certain texts). The only way to prepare for psychometric tests is to practise lots and get used to the style of the tests, as they will be different from anything you’ve done before.

Later-stage recruitment processes

Once an employer has decided you’ve demonstrated the skills and passion for the role, you’ll be invited to the next stage, which involves meeting the employer to further discuss your skills and experience.

Interview stages

There may be multiple different stages to an interview process, it’s completely dependent on the company.

For example, you may have to do two of these processes – such as an interview followed by an assessment centre.


If you pass the first stages of an application, you’ll be invited to meet the employer. This might be face-to-face, over the phone, or via a video interview. In some cases, it may be a combination of these. There are often multiple interviews for a role, particularly where there are a lot of applicants.

There are sometimes other variations of interviews, such as ‘one way interviews’ where you pre-record video answers within a time limit. This is more common with larger employers.

Interviews can seem scary, but they’re there to make sure you’ll be happy in the role and that you’re a good fit for the employer. The key is being prepared to show your skills and experiences.

More about preparing for interviews

Kerry, senior recruiter at Cognizant

Going on an interview is like going on a first date, have they got the same values and ethics as you? Make sure you ask the right questions during your interview and show that you’re interested in them.

Assessment centres

Assessment centres are a way for employers to see how you work with other people. It allows them to assess lots of candidates at the same time and see how you approach specific tasks or activities.

An assessment centre is usually the last step in the recruitment process before you find out if you’ve been successful for the role. It also gives you a taste of what working there might be like and you can meet some of the people you’d be working with.

More about assessment centres