How to prepare for an apprenticeship interview

An apprenticeship interview is just like any other interview. Your job is to convince the employer you’re right for the role. Show that you’re interested, capable, and willing to learn.
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This is your chance to find out more about the company, the people who work there, and the job itself.

Just remember, it’s nothing to worry about. Keeping a level head will go a long way towards landing you an offer. But there are a few things you should do to prepare.

Preparing for your interview

1. Research the employer

Remember, they’re the one offering you the opportunity. They have to know that you’re interested in working for them in particular and aren’t just looking for someone to pay for your degree. Even though they will.

Do a bit of professional stalking. Go on their website, their blog, their social media. Find out what they’re working on and be ready to talk about it. Try and come across like you’re already on the team.

Jill, employer at Nestle

Treat every employer differently and give answers to questions you truly believe – not what you think we want to hear. Invest in doing preparation ahead of your application and be true to yourself. We want to see the real you – who you truly are – and when you bring that authenticity to an interview, it’s amazingly powerful.

2. Read the job description

Know what you’re applying for and the kind of skills and experience they’re asking for. Don’t worry if you’re not the perfect candidate on paper. The key is to understand what you’re good at, how it’s relevant to the job, and get that across to the employer.

For instance, maybe your summer job scrubbing pots down the pub taught you a lot about attention to detail. Use what you’ve got, and polish it up. 

Nobody like selling themselves, so here are some useful tips for doing just that, and for writing your apprenticeship CV.

3. Practise interview questions

Practise with a friend, your dog, or just by yourself. Goldfish make good listeners, too. You might be able to arrange a mock interview with your school or college.

Practising answers to popular apprenticeship interview questions will stand you in good stead to give convincing answers on the day. And don’t worry about sounding rehearsed, they’re unlikely to notice – and even if they do, it just shows that you’re prepared.

It’s also worth giving that telephone voice of yours a dust off, because some employers might want to interview you over the phone. And it could be a good excuse for a catch-up with someone who you trust to give good feedback.   

Note that you may also be asked to do an assessment before your interview, which will usually test your people skills, as well as functional maths and English.

Lauren, employer at Tulip

Make sure you practise some questions, so think about what the employer is going to ask you – because really, the questions aren’t going to be that different.

4. Think of a few questions to ask

Asking questions is a good way to show you’re engaged. In fact, in the interviewing world – it’s expected that you will ask some questions at the end. So, have some ready.

Questions like, ‘What would a normal day for me look like?’ or ‘What career progression could you offer me?’ can help them start picturing you in the role straightaway.  

Jessica, apprentice at Co-op

Ask about the kind of support you’ll get. For me, once I found out that I’d be so well supported, I was much happier going into the apprenticeship. Don’t be daunted.

On the day

1. Arrive early

Get there ten minutes early. Plan the route well in advance and leave in good time. Give yourself time to relax and get comfortable before you go over your preparation.

2. Be open and engaging

Give a firm handshake. Make good eye contact with the interviewer, especially if there are more than one. You could be working with these people, so the main thing is to get along with them.

3. Come prepared

Bring a pen and paper, and a copy of your CV and application to refer back to. It’s okay to prompt yourself with notes so long as you’re not staring at your notepad. 

Joe, apprentice at Caterpillar

Some people think it will come naturally to them, but you never know until you’re there. It helps to take notes so you know exactly what to talk about.

4. Take your time

You don’t have to answer straightaway. Take a moment to consider your response, and feel free to ask them to repeat the question. Remember to back up everything you say with examples.

5. Await your response

After the interview, don’t forget to keep an eye on your emails so you don’t miss a response. Make sure your voicemail and email address are professional and working properly.

And, if at first you don’t succeed, keep your head up and move on to the next one. If you can, ask the employer for feedback on what could have gone better and keep that in mind for the next one.

Remember, this stuff isn’t easy – so when you do succeed, take time to stop and give yourself a pat on the back.

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