A Degree Apprenticeship interview is different from a normal job interview. Given the level of commitment that is needed from both apprentice and employer, there’s a bit more at stake. An employer will be investing in training costs for the duration of the degree so they’re looking for someone who is enthusiastic and passionate about the role and the industry. They’ll want to hire a career-minded individual who can deal with responsibility, balance work and study, and who will, ideally, stay with the company long after gaining their qualification.
At LJMU we’ve been working closely with Degree Apprentice employers so we’ve gained some insight into what they are looking for in candidates. If you follow these top tips, you’ll be in a good position to land a Degree Apprenticeship.
1. Do your research
The interviewer is bound to ask you what you know about the company and what you understand about the role. There’s no reason to be unprepared for these questions. Re-read the job description and be able to explain how you are the right person for the opportunity. Carry out research on the company’s website so you understand what services they offer, what projects they are involved in, their history, etc. Be aware that sometimes companies have multiple websites, with their corporate sites separate from their customer-facing ones.
2. Know yourself
Sounds pretty straightforward but some people find it difficult to ‘sell themselves’. So when the ‘tell me about yourself’ question comes up, it can be one of the hardest to answer. The best way to prepare for this is to read over your CV and cover letter so you can draw on specific examples of your achievements, interests and goals.
3. Look your best
Don’t show up to an interview in what you assume to be acceptable clothing for a particular industry. No matter how relaxed a company might be once you work for them, it’s best to make an effort for the interview. Wear business/office clothing and you can’t really go wrong.
4. Act professional
Employers tell us apprentices can approach an interview a bit too casually. Remember the interviewers are your future managers and colleagues, not your friends, at least not at this stage, so treat them accordingly. Shake hands when meeting and parting, be polite, keep your answers professional (don’t stray into the danger zone of ‘too much information’), maintain eye contact, smile, and remember to say thanks at the end of the interview. It’s also worth checking your online presence beforehand to make sure there are no ‘compromising’ photos of you on social media.
It’s natural to be nervous. Most of the time, interviewers do the talking first, explaining the role, etc. which gives you a bit of time to try to control your nerves and consider your responses. Take a deep breath before you answer a question, it’ll calm you down and give you a chance to think. Sit upright as it’ll improve your breathing and make you feel more confident.
6. Be positive
The spotlight is on you during an interview but that doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable situation. Show your enthusiasm and keep your answers positive. With a positive outlook you’ll feel better about yourself and this will come across to the interviewer.
7. Ask questions
Interviewees tend to forget that this process is a two-way street. While the employer wants to find out if you are a good fit for the role, you want to know that it’s a good fit for you too. This is especially important considering that a Degree Apprenticeship requires a big commitment. You’ll be committing to working for the company for at least the number of years required to gain your qualification and likely some time after you’re qualified. Take this opportunity to find out what you need to know about the company and role in order to make a sound decision.
8. Plan for the day
When it comes to being prepared for your interview slot, be sure to know where it is, when it is, and who will be carrying out the interview. Plan your journey so that you arrive early and find out who you need to ask for when you arrive. Showing up late to an interview will most likely count against you, no matter how apologetic you are.
9. Stand out
You don’t need to do anything drastic to make an impression, just think about some experience or skills you have that might set you apart from the competition. Perhaps you’ve done some volunteering or part-time work that relates to the role, try to emphasise this when answering questions.
Practice for your interview
Here are some typical interview questions to help you prepare. Have a friend ask you the questions and get them to give you feedback. Or why not video it so you can review it yourself?
Questions employers might ask at an interview:
Why do you want to work with us?
Questions you could ask at an interview:
What will be my day-to-day responsibilities?
Image: Interview – Ethan/Flickr under CC BY 2.0