Even after the current pandemic is over, it’s likely that more and more apprenticeship recruitment will be done remotely, by video interviews. You should still prepare in the same way you would for a normal interview, because it is exactly that… a normal interview! The only difference is that you aren’t face-to-face, but everything else still applies.
Research the Company
Virtually every company these days has a website so researching the company prior to your interview is easy. Try and find out what products and services they provide and who they provide them to, for example, to other businesses or directly to customers. Many websites have an “about us” section which will tell you what their mission is and how they aim to achieve it. You can also take a look at their social media pages to see how they engage with customers and stakeholders. If you’ve been given the names of the people who will be interviewing you, look them up on LinkedIn to see their current job title and previous roles This will give you a bit of background on what sort of experience they have and may give you some insight into the sort of person they are.
In most interviews you will be asked what you know about the company so you want to be able to answer this question. Having knowledge about the company and what they do shows that you are genuinely interested in the job because you have taken the time to do the research. For entry apprenticeship roles, which often don’t require you to already have a lot of experience and skills in the sector, showing you are interested and enthusiastic can go a long way to getting you the job.
Look at the Job Description
You probably read the job description when you applied for the role but it’s a good idea to give it another good look over prior to your apprenticeship interview. The duties or responsibilities section of the job description tells you the typical activities you would be doing in the role. Make sure you’re familiar with these and have a think about the sorts of questions you could be asked and what you could answer. For example, if a responsibility is “providing administrative support to senior staff”, they might ask you, “How would you organise your workload to support others?” or “How would you manage competing priorities from different members of staff?”
The person specification section of the job description will also give you a lot of clues as to the sorts of questions they are going to ask. The person specification is the part which lists all of the qualifications, knowledge, skills and experience that the successful candidate should have. For example, they may list “basic accounting knowledge” and you would need to talk about what accountancy courses and training you have completed and what you learnt.
Think Outside the Box
If you haven’t had a lot of work experience or there are parts of the person specification where you feel you might be lacking, try thinking about your transferable skills. These are skills which you have gained in other jobs or during work experience, at school or college or even in your personal life and hobbies which you could use in this role. For example, if the job description says they are looking for someone who is “a good team player”, you could talk about group projects you’ve completed at college or your football team, drama club or scouts group. It’s not enough to just say you’ve been part of a team. Think about how you integrated yourself into the team, communicated with others and any ways in which you supported, motivated or organised other people in the team.
Practice your Answers
Once you’ve thought about the sorts of question they could ask and what answers you could give, you may find it useful to practice these with someone else, such as a member of your family. Having an idea of what we’re going to say in our heads, doesn’t always translate into a great answer when we say it out loud so this is an opportunity to make sure that you’re clear on what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. This is also a great way to get some feedback and suggestions on how you could improve your answers even more. You may want to make some notes on your answers so you can go over them again on the day of your interview. In most cases, interviewers won’t mind you using your notes in the interview itself but it’s best to ask them at the start of the interview just to check.
Prepare some Questions
Nearly all interviews finish by asking if you have any questions for them so it’s a good idea to have a couple in mind. The questions you have may get answered in the course of the interview so it’s best to have a few. You might want to ask what the apprenticeship training will involve or what the structure of the team is. It’s generally considered unwise to ask about how soon you can get a pay rise, how many holidays you get or other benefits. This makes it sound like you are not genuinely interested in the role.
Consider your Appearance
Think about what you’re going to wear for the interview. Dressing appropriately is important because the first judgment an interviewer makes is going to be based on how you look and what you are wearing, and this is no different whether you’re face-to-face or on a video call. Even if it’s not a corporate environment, you should still wear formal office clothes in most cases. You are much better off being a bit overdressed than underdressed so no t-shirts or tracksuits.
Check your Technology
If possible, you should conduct your interview on a tablet, PC or laptop that you can stand on a table or desk, rather than holding your phone in your hands. This means that your hands are free to access your notes and avoids the distraction of camera movements. Ensure that you are in a quiet space with good lighting, that is free from any possible interruptions. Check your internet connection and that your camera and microphone are working.
Get the Right State of Mind
The interviewers will have been in the working world a while and they have probably interviewed people before. They will understand that people get nervous in interviews, everybody does, even people who have been working for many years. Try and stay as calm as you can. Before you join the video call, do a final check on your appearance, and take a few deep breaths.
Remember your Body Language
Even though you’re not face-to-face, your body language is still important. Sit up straight, maintain eye contact with the camera and smile and nod your head to show that you are engaged with what the interviewer is saying. If you’re not having to hold your device, this will also allow you to use your hands freely as you talk, to help express what you are saying.
Watch our apprenticeship interview video for even more hints and tips.