Have you been asked to attend an interview for an apprenticeship? There's no need to be nervous: being prepared is the key to doing really well in your interview.
We've put together this guide to help you really impress the interviewers. It includes the five apprenticeship interview questions you should expect to be asked, with a few tips from companies and business experts on how to answer each question.
1. Why did you apply for this apprenticeship role?
This question might sound obvious, but sometimes it’s the straightforward questions that trip us up, so be sure to have a well thought-out answer that you’ve been through a few times or even practised with a friend or family member.
When employers ask you this question, they’re really looking to find out about your enthusiasm, research abilities, and ambition. Showing enthusiasm for the job you’re applying for is important in any interview. But it’s particularly important when it comes to apprenticeships, because many apprenticeship roles don’t need any qualifications or experience, so employers need to know that you’re excited about the role and are keen to learn. They’re basing their decision on your commitment. Make sure you smile and make eye contact.
With this question your interviewer also wants to see how well you’ve researched the position and the company. Demonstrate you’ve looked into what the business does and what the role would involve by referencing that information in your answer. Connect the job’s tasks and responsibilities to your career goals. For example, you could say, “I applied for this role because the receptionist duties will allow me to develop my communication skills,” or “I’m interested in this company because it prioritises training for apprentices, and I’m always keen to learn new things.”
Be as specific as possible. Think about both the role and the company. In this way you’re showing both your research skills as well as your dedication and ambition.
We asked Joe Crossley, CEO of apprenticeship training provider Qube Learning, for his advice on how to tackle this question.
Here’s what he had to say: “It is important to prepare for an interview and by this, I mean spend time researching the business and person you are meeting with. You should know what they do, what the apprenticeship involves and why you’d be great for the company.”
We also spoke to Zara Murji from accountancy and business experts BDO to learn more about how they recruit apprentices. She agrees: "In order to prepare for an assessment centre or interview at BDO, we recommend that you conduct in-depth research on the firm, our values and your chosen stream or area of work. It’s also beneficial to research the industry of the stream you are applying for so we can recognise that you are commercially aware."
2. What can you bring to the role?
The best starting point here is to look closely at the apprenticeship job description, which you can usually find in the application form (or you may have been sent more information when you were invited for interview).
What skills are included in the description? Make a list, and then match the required skills to your own skills. The interviewer is looking for very specific answers when it comes to this question. It’s not enough to say, “I have great teamwork skills.” You need to give a concrete example of a specific time you used your teamwork skills – for instance, a particular project you worked on in Design & Technology class, or playing a sport.
Joe says: “Understand what the apprentice role is. Write down key points they are looking for and why you are the best person to fulfil that role and, how your skills and experience are relevant. Have examples of work so the employer understands what your strengths are.”
To make sure your answer is up to scratch, spend some time beforehand thinking about all the different ways you might have developed these key transferable skills. It could be from class, a hobby, volunteering, your part-time job or even at home. Some of the most crucial skills are problem-solving, time-management, communication, teamwork, and adaptability. We’re willing to bet you’ve got a lot more of them than you think!
"We adopt a strengths-based assessment throughout our recruitment process at BDO," says Zara. "This means we are interested in what you do well and enjoy doing so we can identify the skills required to thrive in your role. This differs from competency-based interviews, as we would like to illicit more of a natural response to build on your strengths that we can nurture from the beginning of your career."
3. What are your weaknesses?
This is another one of the apprenticeship interview questions you may be asked during an interview for an apprenticeship role.
“They may also ask about your weaknesses,” Joe says. “Be honest; we are all human and appreciate that some areas may need more help than others – this doesn’t make you unemployable!”
“Read over your CV and be confident when asked about your history of work and education. You are who you are and worthy of being interviewed. You have got this far so the employer must be interested in hearing more.”
Joe adds: “Be brave! We understand that people come from all walks of life and that diversity within a business is what makes us interesting, and we hope all other employers have the same attitude.”
4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
One of the common apprenticeship interview questions employers may bring up is about your plans for the future. Again, they’re looking to see if you’re motivated, committed, passionate and ambitious. They want to figure out if you’re a good fit for the company, too.
Be as honest as you can be: when you imagine your career in five years, what does it look like? What skills do you have? What have you achieved? What are you most proud of? What challenges have you tackled? And since this is an apprenticeship interview, after all: think about what qualifications you would like to receive. In five years’ time, are you a member of any professional bodies?
“Think carefully about your answers and take a deep breath,” says Joe. “Employers are always keen to meet with talented people that will make a difference within their business, so be confident about what you know.”
5. Do you have any questions for us?
This might just be one of the most common apprenticeship interview questions – but it’s very easy to forget to prepare for! The vast majority of employers will give you a chance to ask your own questions at the end of the interview.
Think about what you really want to know about the apprenticeship role. It shows the employer that you’re engaged and you’re genuinely interested in the job, but it’s also your chance to get important information. The interview is also about making sure the company is right for you too.
Zara says: "Prior to your interview you should be well researched, enthusiastic and most importantly YOURSELF! Remember, your interviewer will want to get to know you so they can envisage working with you and this process is for your benefit as much as our so make sure you ask lots of questions!"
Here are a few apprenticeship questions to ask employer (if they haven’t already covered these points, of course!)…
- What would a typical day be like?
- How will my time be divided between working and learning?
- Do you have a dress code?
- Are you considering offering apprentices permanent positions after the apprenticeship scheme has ended?
- What have previous apprentices gone on to do once they have completed their apprenticeship?
- What extra training or development is available?