Applying and Interviewing for an Apprenticeship
Securing employment as an apprentice is the same as going for any other job. It is a competitive process within which an employer will see a number of different candidates and make their decision about who they employ through an application and interview process.
So, as mentioned, it is a competitive process so you need to do everything you can within your application to demonstrate your interest in engineering and your drive to do an apprenticeship.
Do get someone to check your spelling and grammar is correct
Do show your interest and enthusiasm for engineering, apprenticeships and the company you are applying to
Do get someone to read through what you have written and give you feedback.
Don’t use abbreviations, text speak, slang words.
Don’t exaggerate – you might be asked about what you have written
Work Experience / Job History
Give details of any experience you have in a work environment. If you are a school leave it is understandable that you will not have lots of job history, however, highlighting the experience you have gained is important. Include;
- Work experience placements
- Volunteer work,
- Part time jobs
- Full time jobs.
Why Engineering and/or Why an Apprenticeship
This is your opportunity to set out why you are applying for a role in this industry and why you feel an apprenticeship is the right route for you. Giving examples to support your claims and include;
- What interests you about engineering
- What qualities you have that might relate to the skills an engineer would need
- Any research you have done into the type of engineering you are interested in
- Why an apprenticeship would suit you more than college or university
Interests and Hobbies
Many people write very little under this category however, it is really important as it gives an insight into you as a person and reinforces personality traits that good employees show. Include;
- Clubs, teams and commitments that you attend on a regular basis. Include detail of how often you have to turn up and what your attendance has been like
- Extra responsibilities you have taken on within you chosen hobby or interest
- How you have developed your talent, learnt/perfected a skill or gained knowledge
This is your opportunity to pull everything together, highlight your strengths plus comment as to why the company you are applying to work for is right for you. When claiming something, always try to back it up with evidence and attempt to get across your interest, passion and enthusiasm for what is on offer within the job role.
Once you have applied, the Training Provider may run some assessments and conduct a phone interview prior to shortlisting you for an apprenticeship. Ultimately it is each employer’s choice who they take on as an apprentice and they will select someone following an interview process.
Here are our top tips when interviewing with an Employer.
This may be the first time that you’ve had to do an interview, so it’s natural to feel nervous. Employers know this and everyone interviewing for an apprenticeship will be in the same boat!
Nerves can be useful as they show that something is important to you so try to put them to work and channel them into your preparation.
Preparation is key! If you are confident that you will be able to answer the questions, then it will help you with your nerves.
Here’s a few things employers might want to know:
- Are you motivated to do an engineering apprenticeship? If so why?
- What is your current understanding of engineering?
- Why are you suitability for the vacancy?
- Could you be a future employee?
- Would this person take on the training needed and work hard to complete their apprenticeship?
Get a notebook!
There is nothing wrong with writing down some notes or prompts to help you through your interview. Don’t feel you have to memorise all the information about the company or yourself!
Write down some key facts about yourself (in your notebook)
You need to do a bit of self-reflection before the interview and write down some information about yourself. For example; list your achievements, strengths, weaknesses, interest and hobbies.
Think of 2-3 experiences you are proud of and write one-line reminders in your notebook. Depending on your age, you may not have vast amounts of work experience so these can come from any area of your life such as school, hobbies, sports, clubs or a part-time job. When you get to interview, you’ll be able to use these to show when you’ve achieved something / shown initiative / taken responsibility / dealt with a difficult situation / used great communication etc.
Do your research and prep. about the employer and write it in your notebook
Find out what that specific engineering apprenticeship vacancy involves and think about why that individual apprenticeship is right for you. Make some notes about why you would be a good fit for this opportunity.
Plan some questions. Jot down 9 specific questions to ask; 3 about the vacancy, 3 about the employer and 3 practical questions about the role.
Remember that an interview is also for you to find out if the apprenticeship and employer is the right fit for you.
Here are some examples of good questions to ask about the vacancy:
- What are the key skills that I need to master to be successful in this role?
- What role could I expect within the business if I were to complete this role?
- What are you looking for in your ideal apprentice?
Here are some examples of good questions to ask about the employer:
- How would you describe your company’s culture?
- Does your company have a mission statement?
- Who is your biggest customer / market?
And here are examples for the practical questions:
- How many apprentices are you recruiting? How many applicants are you interviewing for these places?
- How quickly are you looking to make a decision following this interview?
- When are you looking for the successful person / people to start?
What to Wear
Dress smartly. Remember this is a formal process and the interview will often be with management of the company so it is important to make a good impression.
Every interview is different; some are on a one to one basis others involve a panel of people. The best interviews are more like a formal conversation. Here are some top tips:
- Use your manners. From ‘Hello’ to ‘Goodbye’ be professional. It doesn’t have to be overly formal but do speak properly and avoid slang.
- Make eye contact with the people interviewing you, sit up and use your body language to show you are listening to what they are saying.
- Don’t interrupt. It’s a two-way conversation; listen and respond. You have your notebook to write something down if you want to remember a comment or question. They’ll be writing too, so it’s fine to jot things down as you go.
- If you find you’ve forgotten the question, just ask them to repeat it. This will help you to re-focus your answer (you can use your notebook to get back on track).
- It’s also fine to ponder a question for a moment if you need time to think; you don’t have to rush it. Slowing down a bit helps with nerves and feels more natural.
- Before the end, check through your notes to see if there is anything you need to ask
Examples of questions an Employer might ask you:
- Why have you applied for this apprenticeship?
- What do you know about our organization?
- Give an example of a time when you have coped well under pressure.
- What do you think we want from our apprentice?
- Rate your organisational skills on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest). Give an example of when you have used these skills.
- Give an example of how you have dealt with a difficult situation.
- Give an example of a time you have worked independently.
- Give an example of a time you have worked as part of a team.
- Where do you see yourself in five years time?
- What are you not so good at? This type of question has no right or wrong answer, but is designed to see if you can think on your feet. The answer may naturally be negative so try to turn this around into a positive. Show how you overcome the weakness.
- Can you tell us about something new that you have learned in the last 6 months and what you have gained from it?
Remote / Online Interviews
A lot of employers are now choosing to do initial interviews remotely either by video or phone. So here are some tips on how to prepare.
- Be ready and plan the basics
- Plan where you’re going to do your interview; you need somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed or distracted. A table is useful. Think about what’s behind you! Any embarrassing photos or annoying mirrors?!
- Make sure any devices needed are charged.
- Try to be ‘hands free’ so that you’re not trying to hold a phone or device at the same time as talking.
- If you’re going to be on camera, make sure you are presentable.
- Set a reminder for 15 minutes before the interview so that you can get set-up.
- Get your notebook and a glass of water ready.
- Be in place early so that you are calm (avoid being rushed and out of breath, fumbling around or half-asleep!)
- Show that this interview is the most important thing that day.
After the Interview, Reflect (and put that notebook somewhere safe!)
It’s tempting to crack on with your day, but take a moment to reflect on your experience.
Using your trusty notebook, jot down anything that went well so that you can remember to do it or say it next time.
You can also think about anything that didn’t go to plan so you can be more prepared in the future.
What if you are Unsuccessful?
Remember that it is normal to interview for lots of positions; it is actually quite rare to get offered a position after your first interview! So don’t be disheartened; this process is about putting the right people in the right roles so if you don’t get it this time, try again until you find the right role and the right employer.