School leaver blog: interview preparation and more

  • Anna Vall Navés
  • Last updated 30 Oct 2019

This week, we’ll be covering some interview preparation tips, looking at the weird (and oddly wonderful) dairy technologist apprenticeship and hearing of Jo Allen’s experience as a business administration apprentice at the University of Oxford.


Career insight of the week: interview preparation

Odds are that, if you haven’t already, you’ll come across an interview soon. Whether it be for a job, a school leaver programme, university or something else entirely, getting an interview right can sometimes make all the difference. So how exactly do you prepare for an interview?

The best thing you can do (besides making a note of where and when your interview will be taking place) is making sure you’ve researched the company as thoroughly as you possibly can. What is it exactly that they do? What are their values? What kind of candidates are they looking for? You need to make sure you both demonstrate the kind of traits your potential employer values and that you understand the company and what’s going on in their sector.

Once you’ve done your research and jotted down some notes, it’s a matter of practising. Anticipate the kinds of questions you might be asked (we’ve listed a few) and try to answer them like you would in an interview. Ultimately, however, you probably won’t be able to anticipate exactly how the interview will go. So after you’ve finished preparing, try to calm your nerves and accept that they may bowl some googlies at you! 

Weird and wonderful apprenticeships: advanced dairy technologist

We highly doubt you’ve ever heard of this one before, but that probably just demonstrates the breadth of apprenticeships available to school leavers nowadays. Unsuitable for those with lactose intolerance, this three-year higher apprenticeship teaches all of the fundamentals in turning raw materials (such as milk) into all sorts of finished products, including cheese, ice cream, yogurt and more.

According to the apprenticeship standard, an advanced dairy technologist has to develop a “base of strong dairy science and technology knowledge” and supervise all processes, from packaging to ensuring hygiene in the plant is up to standard. And while starting salaries for food technologists are generally between £20,000 to £26,000, at a senior management level technologists can earn upwards of £50,000!

Spotlight on: Jo Allen, business administration apprentice at the University of Oxford

After studying history at Warwick University, Jo Allen decided to do an advanced apprenticeship in business administration at the University of Oxford. Allen said that while she doesn’t regret her degree, apprenticeships—which were not presented as a conventional option when she was in school—are just as valuable. Having done both, Allen says that you can’t compare university and apprenticeship programmes, and that you certainly “cannot say that one is better than the other”.

Allen also explained that she recently got a job offer from her current apprenticeship employer, which she accepted. While she’s been extremely happy with her apprenticeship, her advice to school leavers would be to consider all of their options before deciding: “There are so many choices available to young people, it can be slightly overwhelming, so my strongest advice is that you should do the things that you enjoy and are interested in and see where that takes you.”

Recommended reading

  1. Following a recent report, universities have been criticised for their complacency in tackling racism. Academics discuss racism in higher education in this article.
  2. With fears about online privacy increasing, here’s an overview of some of the essential tools and habits to protect your data privacy.
  3. Researchers have analysed texts throughout the last two centuries to develop a quantitative picture of happiness through history.
  4. Love nature documentaries? Recent research has suggested that they can help increase interest in—and protect—the natural world.
  5. Every university course has its stereotypes, but is it possible to guess what course someone does based on the clothes they wear?

“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” — Ellen DeGeneres


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