4 steps to preparing for an apprenticeship
Interviews can be a difficult and stressful situation for most of us, especially if you have little or no experience of having an interview. So you might have questions going around your head like:
- How should I behave at interview?
- What do I do if I get tongue-tied, how do I keep my nerves in check?
- Should I shake the interviewer’s hand?
- What sort of questions should I ask?
- What should I wear?
- How early should I arrive?
- What do I need to know about the company?
- How can I prepare for an interview if I don’t know what they are going to ask me?
Firstly, don’t worry these are normal fears and questions that everyone encounters, no matter how many interviews they have had in their lifetime. At Appris we have many years’ experience of apprenticeship interviews and have written this guidance leaflet to help you through the interview process.
It is important you know who the company is that you have your interview with, so do your research. A great place to start is the website for the company interviewing you. The more you know, the more it demonstrates to the interviewer that you are interested in working for them. Find out about their products/services, how long they have been in existence, who are their customers etc.
Preparation is the key to most of the questions that you have got about your interview. Practice makes perfect, so think about what sorts of questions you may get asked at interview. It might be things like:
- What interests you about this role?
- Why are you interested in coming to work for our company?
- What do you know about our company?
- Tell me what experience you have got working within in team?
- What do you know/understand about the job that you have applied for?
- Why do you want this job?
- Why should I give you this job, what makes you different to everybody else?
You need to stand out from the rest of the interviewees that will be interviewed, so make sure you think about your responses and practice them to yourself and to other people. It might sound strange, but practicing out loud really does help you to prepare and get your answers right.
These answers should be backed up by examples of what you are talking about. If you don’t have experience or examples you can give in a work capacity, can you give examples of things you have done at school/college or within a voluntary role etc? If possible ask if there is a job description for the job that you are applying for, this will help you to focus on what types of questions the interviewer might ask you. You also need to make sure you are on time, so think about the following:
- Where is the company?
- How am I going to get there?
- What time is my interview?
- What time should I arrive?
Prepare, Prepare and Prepare
Make sure you get there on time, normally 10-15 minutes prior to the start time. It is good practice to have a dummy run if you are not familiar with where your interview will be held. You probably will be nervous anyway on the day, which will be made worse if you turn up late because you were lost! If the worst does happen, make sure you have the company telephone number with you so you can call them and explain that you are running late.
It really is true what they say that your first impression is important and makes a lasting impression. We maybe should not, but we do, judge a book by its cover, so make sure that when the interviewer sees you for the first time that you have dressed to impress him or her. Males should wear a suit if they have one, if not trousers, shirt and a tie. Ladies should wear smart skirts, blouses, dresses or trousers. Casual clothes are not acceptable interview wear. Smart wear is very important; you want them to think that you are a professional and serious about the interview. You may only have this one chance to make that good impression.
You will no doubt be nervous, but you have to demonstrate the opposite. You have to show that you are confident (not arrogant) and the person they want to employ. You can do this by making sure when you shake hands it is a firm handshake. Use good eye contact and look at the interviewer(s) when you are talking to them. Try to smile and have good open body language i.e. sit up straight, don’t slouch.
Pay attention to the questions that they ask you, listen carefully, take your time and answer them as fully as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat the question if you don’t understand. It is much better to do that, than waffle on and give a totally wrong answer. This is your opportunity to sell yourself. Don’t forget you probably won’t be the only one having an interview for the job, especially in today’s current climate, so make it count… you need to sell yourself.
If you get the opportunity tell them about your qualifications or what your expected qualifications are. Give them examples of things that they are questioning you about. This demonstrates that you understand what they are looking for and that you have had experience of it. Emphasise your ability, what you are good at and that you work well in a team.
It is okay to take a list of questions into the interview and get them out at the end when they ask if you have any questions. This will demonstrate to the employer that you have prepared and are interested in their organisation and that you have a keen interest in the position that you are applying for. You might have other questions that you want to ask.
If your questions have been covered during the interview, don’t ask them again at the end as it might look like you have not listened. Explain that you had a list of questions, but they have been covered in the interview. It is always good to ask a couple of questions.
If it is possible you might want to consider sending a thank you email to the person who has interviewed you. Thank them for the interview, tell them how interested you are in the position and that you look forward to hearing from them.
You have agreed to Appris using your application profile and personal details to work on your behalf in securing an apprenticeship. It is possible that your details will be sent to multiple companies. Therefore, be prepared to take calls and emails in a suitable manner, you may be speaking with your new employer.
If you are offered an interview when you have an exam day please let your interviewer know. All companies will understand the importance of your exams and will possibly rearrange another date. In addition to this, please inform your interviewer if you cannot make the interview. This is a professional and courteous way to behave at any point.
There is no guarantee of an apprenticeship, but if you are offered a position with one of our companies, or anyone else, please let us know as soon as possible and we can act accordingly.