The thought of an apprenticeship interview might make you think of The X Factor: getting up on stage, performing in front of a panel, your future hanging on whether they say “It’s a no for me!” or “One hundred million thousand per cent yes!”
But in reality, an apprenticeship interview is far less daunting. To support you, we’ve put together a bunch of interview tips to help you smash that apprenticeship interview.
What preparation should I do before the interview?
It’s so vital that you prepare for an interview. By preparation, we mean researching the company and the apprenticeship you are applying for. You should know what they do, what the apprenticeship involves and why you’d be great for the company! It doesn’t hurt to read over your CV and cover letter – the details you’ve shared in these will most likely shape some of the interview questions. One of the best ways to prepare is to practice answering some of the questions they might ask you. Get someone you know to pose as the interviewer so you get used to talking aloud and thinking on your feet.
It’s also worth looking at the job description and trying to get a sense of the attributes they are looking for. Make a list of your interests, strengths and weakness with accompanying examples or evidence to back up each one. For example, if they are looking for an organised person with good attention to detail, think about examples of times when you have been organised. It might be the way you organised your GCSE or A Level revision, or organisational skills you demonstrated on work experience or during extracurricular activities.
What should I wear?
Many people get worried about what to wear for an apprenticeship interview. It’s a toughie and will very much depend on the apprenticeship and the company you are applying to.
The expected interview wear is tailored clothing which is best for more ‘corporate’ companies and if you are applying for business administration or accountancy apprenticeships.
Otherwise, if you think full-on business wear might be over egging it, opt for smart casual. The key is to look smart, professional and look like you’ll fit in at the company.
How should I handle my interview nerves?
There’s really no reason to be nervous. Remember: they are not just interviewing you, you are interviewing them. An apprenticeship interview is also your chance to find out more about the company and the people that work there.
It’s pretty natural to be nervous, but doing things like making sure you’re prepared, holding back on the coffee, taking some deep breaths and slowing down your speech during the interview can help. Try to relax; it’ll really help you in the interview.
What techniques should I follow during the interview?
The best interviews are more like a formal conversation than a grilling. Don’t be afraid to ask an interviewer to repeat a question, and you can always take a few moments to think before replying to a question.
You could even ask questions during the interview, rather than at the end. Just don’t interrupt the interviewer! Always try and look like you’re listening attentively.
The same goes for group interviews. Even if it takes a mammoth effort, try and keep your concentration up. Pay attention to how you speak too. The company will want an apprentice who can communicate clearly, so try not to mumble or speak incredibly quickly. On the other hand, no one wants to employ a robot, so try not to speak in a dull monotone. Crisp and clear is the way to go. It’s also worth thinking about your body language. Try and make eye contact with the interviewer when you talk to them. Make sure your arms are uncrossed, your shoulders are back and you are sitting up.
Slouching with your arms crossed won’t exactly make you look like a model employee. Perhaps most importantly, don’t forget to SMILE.
Come to the interview armed with some questions about the company and the apprenticeship. It’s a great way of showing that you are genuinely interested in the role. But whatever you do, don’t ask about pay! Oh, and shake hands with your interviewers when you meet them, and at the end of the interview.
What should I do after the interview?
Employers love our good manners, so it certainly doesn’t hurt to send a short follow-up email after your interview, thanking them for the interview and reinstating your interest in the apprenticeship. If you don’t get the apprenticeship, ask for some honest feedback from the employer as to why you weren’t right for the role and how they think you can improve.