An apprenticeship interview is no different from a job interview insofar as the applicant should treat the interview with the same degree of professionalism.
1. Preparing for your interview
Once you have been invited to the interview, it is a good idea to start preparing straight away, to make sure that you aren’t rushing to get yourself ready nearer the time. Some things you might want to consider are:
- Use an internet map site to plan your journey to the interview – work out how long it’s going to take and what your most convenient and reliable transport options are. Print out a map, even if you have SatNav.
- Set up an email filter so that any correspondence between you and the person/company with whom you’ve applied is all in one place. That way, if you’ve applied for more than one apprenticeship you can make sure that you have a record of each one and what they require. (Some might need a passport photo, utility bill etc. so it’s worth being organised to make sure you don’t forget anything).
- Research the company to whom you’ve applied. The more you know about the company, the better equipped you will be to answer any questions they have on interview day. This may also be a good opportunity to make a list of questions of your own.
- Make sure you confirm attendance at the earliest available opportunity. If you cannot attend for some reason, inform your contact straight away and they may be able to rearrange your appointment.
- Double check your appointment time and date. Make sure you have made a note of who to ask for upon arrival. If you don’t have a named contact, make sure you’re able to explain exactly why you’re there (for example “Hi, I’m [name] and I have an appointment at 10:30 for a chartered accountancy apprenticeship assessment” sounds a lot better than “Hi, I’m not sure who I’m looking for but I’ve got an interview at 10:30.”)
2. On the day
It is important to try and ensure you get through the day without any added stresses.
Your interviewer will expect you to be nervous, but panicky and disorganised is not an impression you want to give. The following preparations should enable this:
- Dress smartly. Whether you’re applying for an apprenticeship as a legal clerk or a plumber, wearing smart clothes will show that you care about the vacancy to which you’ve applied – even if that’s not the kind of thing you’ll be wearing to work.
- Make a check list of everything you’re supposed to take with you.
- Make sure you arrive in plenty of time for your interview – half an hour early is NOT too early. This will give you an opportunity to gather your thoughts before the interview and to make sure you’re in the right place. Check in as soon as you get there so that your interviewers can be informed that you’ve arrived. Some companies have different receptions for different departments… if you arrive at the wrong place, you need time to get where you need to be.
- If you’ve made a note of questions, bring them with you, ideally printed and in a neat, well organised folder. It’s worth bringing a copy of your CV, your application and the vacancy details with you too. The interviewer will probably have all of these things anyway, but you never know.
3. The interview
Someone will probably come to meet you and take you to wherever it is you’re going to be interviewed.
This may or may not be one of your interviewers, but it matters little.
Treat everybody you meet as if they’re going to have a say in whether or not you are successful in your application.
Politeness and respect cost nothing and certainly can’t do you any harm.
- It is important to make sure you look eager. A lot of this is to do with body language. Sit up straight, make eye contact and listen to what your interviewer is saying.
- Do not interrupt your interviewer mid-flow. Make sure they have finished what they are saying before you respond.
- Think carefully before you answer any questions and don’t panic. It’s fine to pause for a few moments before you answer. If you’re not sure on something, there’s no reason you shouldn’t ask your interviewer to repeat or clarify something they’ve said.
- When answering questions, make sure you do it with confidence and a positive demeanour. It’s as much about delivery as content.
- Your interviewers will almost always ask if you have any questions. If you’ve prepared some, this is the time. Make sure you do not ask anything that has already been covered in the interview, as this will show that you have not been listening. If you have doubts about the relevance or pertinence of a question, don’t ask it.
4. After the interview
Politeness is still important here – make sure you thank your interviewer for the opportunity and for their time.
If you are unsuccessful, don’t be disheartened and don’t take it personally.
Many of these positions have a lot of applicants so there will always be competition.
However, feel free to ask for feedback from your interviewers so that you can improve your interviewing technique for next time if need be.
There are plenty of opportunities out there and more come along all the time so keep your chin up and keep learning and improving as you go.
For more tips and advice on applying for apprenticeships, please see: