The thought of an apprenticeship interview might make you think of The X Factor: getting up on stage, performing in front of a panel of glamorous judges/interviewers (one with suspiciously high trousers), your future job 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 help you, we’ve put together a bunch of interview tips to help you smash that apprenticeship interview.
Before the interview…
It’s so vital that you prepare for an interview. By preparation, we don’t mean getting a fancy new hairdo, but 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.
One of the best ways to prepare is to practise answering some of the questions they might ask you. You can use our apprenticeship interview questions article as a jumping off point. 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 to wear…
Many people get in a tizz 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 default interview wear is a suit, shirt and tie for boys, or a tailored jacket, blouse and skirt or trousers for girls. This will work best for more ‘corporate’ companies and if you are applying for business administration, paralegal or accountancy apprenticeships.
Otherwise, if you think full-on businesswear might be over egging it, opt for smart casual. The key is to look smart, professional and like you’ll fit in at the company.
Handling interview nerves…
There’s really no reason to be nervous. Remember: they aren’t 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.
The key is to position yourself so it looks that, whilst you’re interested and enthusiastic about the job, you have a sense of your own self-worth; you aren’t desperate for the role.
Saying that, 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.
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! As your mum (or nan) would say, “Manners maketh the man.”
Interviewers tend to like the sound of their own voice and many can’t resist the temptation to rattle off a long spiel about their company. Even if they are boring you witless, 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 like Robert “The Mumbler” Downey Jr in Ironman.
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.
Imagine you are on Strictly Come Dancing; although avoid grinning at them manically throughout the entire interview (and don't do the Cha-cha-cha).
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. A good firm handshake does wonders. A ‘finger breaker’, however, does not!
After the interview…
We British 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.
Remember you are still young! The employer isn’t expecting you to have bags of experience but they will be looking for good potential and a willingness to learn. They’ll also want to get a sense of who you are as a person, so just be yourself.
By that, we don’t mean swear like a trooper or tell them about your One Direction obsession; be your polite, professional self.