Apprentice Interviews : Great Answers For Common Interview Questions
7th June 2017
The application and interview process for an apprenticeship place is often the first you will have experienced. It can be a nerve wracking process because, like most things in life, not knowing what to expect is the worst part.
The good news is that making the interview stage is an indication that you might be just the type of person the hiring company is looking for.
So to help you beat those dreaded nerves, we've compiled the most frequently asked questions and provided that all important explanation of what the interview questions actually mean. With guidance on how to best answer the questions you're guaranteed to make a great impression.
1. Tell me about yourself?
This question is commonly asked because you are now at a stage of the selection process where it is really important to get to know you better. But remember, you are in a professional setting so keep your answer focused on information that positively conveys your personality and could be relevant to the job. Avoid talking in a way that might lead the interviewer to worry about your work ethic too.
For example, if you love being on social media explain that it's not just about sharing selfies. Include if you are a member of a club, if you do anything in a team, or the things that interest you. Here's an example that would impress us:
"I'm a pretty open minded person, who likes to try new things. I love social media and use Instagram for following cookery bloggers – because food and local produce is a big interest of mine. So that I can produce more professional photos for my own social networks I've just completed a short-course at college. I'm also a volunteer for a local charity."
2. Why have you applied for this apprenticeship?
Make this answer all about the job and not about yourself. Saying that you could walk to work in 10 minutes if you get the apprenticeship is not the right approach. Instead, focus on how this apprenticeship will help you achieve your career goals, the skills you know you will learn, how you anticipate it will help you develop personally as well as what a good fit you are for the role.
"I know this apprenticeship is going to provide an excellent route in to the world of work. As well as learning practical skills, I'll develop transferrable skills that I can use in other parts of my life, such as using my initiative, working things out on my own as well as in a team and I hope it will really help me build my confidence."
3. Why do you want to work here?
In this question the interviewer really wants to hear how much you know about the hiring company. You should specifically mention the research you've done and why you think the company is a great place to work. If you've discovered that the business has a set of core values talk about which value resonates most with you. Here's another example of a response that would impress us:
"I'd like to work for a company that has a great reputation and I can see from the online reviews that your company scores high ratings. I enjoyed reading about the values and internal training programme on the company's website – it sounds like the business really invests in its workers. I've also seen the company mentioned in the press for its fundraising activities and that makes it seem a really fun place to work."
4. Completing an apprenticeship means combining work with study. How are you going to manage your time successfully?
This question is trying to find out how good your time management is, how organised you are and how strong your work ethic is. Include any real life examples of how you managed your time, perhaps by creating an exam study timetable or how you juggled a weekend job with study or taking care of people in your family.
5. What skills do you have that would be relevant for this apprenticeship?
Keep your answer relevant to the position – it makes sense that the skills for a finance apprenticeship will be different to a trade apprenticeship. But there are also transferable skills that are valued in every role. Here's another of our standout responses, we wrote this one specifically for a finance apprenticeship:
"I'm already a user of Excel and am pretty familiar with spreadsheets, although I'd like to learn a lot more. Some of the course work at college involved working in groups so I'm used to that style of working. I also like to take a lot of care with my work, being accurate is important to me and I think I show a high level of attention to detail."
6. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
The dreaded and predictable strengths and weaknesses question! First off – no-one is good at everything, we all have weaknesses, but in an interview scenario it is better to talk about areas of improvement. Public speaking is a great example because you probably haven't had many opportunities to practice being good at it yet.
Secondly, because this question always gets asked, prepare ahead by having 2 or 3 relevant examples that you can talk confidently around. Don't get bogged down worrying that you may not have the right experience for the job – attitude is so much more important and this question allows you to convey positivity and "can do" spirit.
7. What would you consider your most significant accomplishment in life so far?
This is a great question to be asked because your answer can relate to any aspect of your life. Everyone faces different challenges and being honest about yours will provide insight to your strength of character and life experiences. It could be anything from winning an award, overcoming a fear, taking care of someone at home, completing a course, passing an exam or a physical challenge.
8. What are your goals for the future?
Another way to ask this question might be "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" This is quite a tough question to answer because no-one has a crystal ball but, like in all your responses, honesty is the best policy. Illustrate how undertaking the apprenticeship will help you achieve your plans for the future, and don't be afraid to ask your interviewer a question, something like this:
"I don't know what's in store over the next few years but once I've completed my apprenticeship, I'd like to continue learning as much as I can, hopefully progressing my career here. What roles have previous apprentices gone on to undertake in the company?"
And, talking of questions, use your interview as an opportunity to gather information you would like to know. Asking questions is a great way to show initiative and conveys that you are really interested in the apprenticeship. A few examples include:
- What type of projects will I be working on?
- Can you tell me a bit more about the structure of the team I will be working in?
- What is the next step in this process?
- And, if you are being interviewed by a line manager, or someone who started out doing a similar apprenticeship, ask them what they most enjoyed about their apprenticeship and what their career path has been.
For many more top tips on making a great impression at interview download Thorpe Molloy Recruitment's Interview Technique booklet.