How to Nail Your Apprenticeship Interview

The application process for an apprenticeship typically involves a couple of elements, such as:

  • A written letter of application
  • Attaching your CV
  • Attaching a portfolio or examples of your work (if appropriate)
  • Attending an in-person or virtual interview

These are all important steps in applying for any kind of job, and you’d do well to read up on each stages to best understand how to stand out from the crowd.

Today we are focusing on the final step on the process, nailing your apprenticeship interview.

What is an Apprenticeship Interview?

An apprenticeship interview is a job interview for the apprenticeship position you have applied for within the company.

An apprenticeship is paid work, so much of the process is the same. One difference is that, depending on the level of apprenticeship, you may lack previous jobs to discuss. In this case, the interview will focus on relevant work experience, school results and extra curricular activities to assess your suitability for the role.

The interviewer will gauge your potential and whether you would be a good fit for the company.

Depending on the role and the company, you may have a second interview once you have reached a shortlist with a more senior staff member. 

Most interviews are conducted in person, but some may be online using systems such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or Google Meet. If you are asked to attend an interview virtually, it’s helpful to ensure sure you have a strong network connection and that your camera and microphone are working before the interview.

Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance if you have additional needs. 

How Can You Prepare?

Being prepared for your apprenticeship interview will help you present yourself in the best light. You are also likely to feel less nervous. 

So, what can you do to prepare for your apprenticeship interview?

1. Research the Role and the Company

If you are applying for an apprenticeship, your interviewer will want to know why you want to work for that particular company. Having knowledge of the company’s products/services/clients and work culture will enable you to give full and relevant answers. 

It will show that you are genuinely interested in working there and display your research skills. 

Being informed will also enable you to ask pertinent questions. 

Most companies will have their goals and ethos on their website. They may also have a client portfolio, if appropriate. It is a good idea to follow the company you are applying for on social media channels as early in the application process as possible. It’s even better to connect with your interviewer/HR manager or future line manager on a professional site such as LinkedIn. 

Check company review sites for honest opinions from employees, past and present.

Find out who the company’s direct competitors are and take note of what you think their strengths and weaknesses are. 

2. Practice

If you have never been interviewed before, it can be unsettling. One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to ask a friend or family member to run through a ‘dummy’ interview. You can also practice in front of a mirror or record the questions and record your answers to see if you can improve them each time.

You can find common interview questions online and practice your answers.

A few sample questions may be:

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 (or 10) years?
  • What are your biggest strengths?
  • Tell us about a time you turned failure into success
  • Why do you want to work with us?
  • What will you bring to the company?

You may also be asked some strange questions such as ‘Would you rather fight one hundred duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?

Don’t panic. This kind of curveball question measures your reactions to the unexpected and your reasons reveal something of your thought processes.

Get comfortable talking about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and why you have applied for that particular apprenticeship. 

Be honest, to a point. While it’s fine to say you have applied for more than one apprenticeship. Telling your interviewer you only applied to them because they are on your doorstep won’t give them a good impression of you. 

Make sure you aren’t just memorising and repeating information, as this can appear robotic.  The better prepared you are, the more you can relax and feel more comfortable going ‘off script’. 

3. Plan Your Route

It may not be your fault, but showing up late to an interview puts you behind the competition before you have even started. 

Occasionally, delays are unavoidable, but leave plenty of time between setting off and arriving.

Aim to arrive 15-20 minutes before your interview. Any earlier, and you have too much time to second guess yourself or lose focus. 

Planning your route and doing a ‘dummy’ run on a free day when your interview is coming up is a good idea. Whether you are driving, getting a lift or using public transport, try to do the dummy run in similar traffic conditions to those you will face on the day. Plan parking (if necessary. 

Check the traffic conditions on the morning of your interview and leave earlier than planned if necessary. 

If you are running late, always inform your interviewer in plenty of time and keep them informed of your estimated arrival time. 

4. Dress Smart but Comfortable

Many companies now operate a relaxed dress code, but you still need to make a good first impression. You may not need to go full suit and tie, but you should dress professionally in clean, well-fitting clothes that aren’t too casual. Depending on the company and the role, dark jeans and a blazer with a collared shirt may be fine, but a tracksuit gives the wrong impression. 

You must be comfortable with what you are wearing, or you will likely fidget. Try your interview outfit on ahead of time and ensure it is weather-appropriate. 

Keep make-up neutral and avoid anything controversial, such as slogan t-shirts.

The most important thing is to practice good personal hygiene. Use a strong deodorant and wash your hair. 

5. Keep Calm

This may be easier said than done. Interviewers expect some nerves from candidates, but you must put your best self forward, and nerves can get in the way. Try breathing exercises or listening to music designed to reduce anxiety before your interview. You can also purchase temple balms or calming scents. 

Remember, although your interview is important, it’s not a life or death situation, and the worst that can happen is that you won’t go forward in the process this time. 

6. Ask the Right Questions

This is where your research comes in. If you already know about the company’s culture and ethos, you can ask more specific questions, such as:

“I think it’s great that you have a mental health day. What made you decide to institute that?”

“I was impressed by your work with X. How did that collaboration come about?”

“What would you say are the biggest challenges and rewards of this apprenticeship?”

You can also ask practical questions, such as ‘When will you make your final decision?’ and ‘Is there anything else you need from me?’

Final Thoughts 

It’s important to note that nailing your apprenticeship interview does not guarantee you will be accepted into the apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are very competitive (particularly in certain industries), and there is an element of luck and being in the right place at the right time involved. 

However, it will improve your chances. 

What to Do if You aren’t Successful

If you are not successful, try again, and always ask for feedback. 

No one enjoys rejection, and it is difficult not to take it personally. However, sometimes it’s just a numbers game. Apprenticeships can only accept a finite amount of candidates each intake.

We advise you to apply for more than one apprenticeship at a time to increase your chances of success.

Every interview under your belt brings you one step closer to your dream role, so always look at it as a learning experience. 

We hope this guide has helped you feel more confident about your apprenticeship interview.

If you have any questions, you can contact us via email or our online contact form.

Relax. We’ll send the jobs to you.

Reckon you know what you want to do, but can’t find the perfect role? Most companies hire their apprentices in a ‘recruitment window’. This means many great jobs are only available for a short time once or twice each year.

Sign up for our job alerts service, and we’ll send you any jobs that fit your search criteria.