Apprenticeship Tips: Interviews
So you sent in your CV and the employer wants to invite you for an interview. That’s great news!
Here’s some smart advice which has already helped thousands of BPP Apprentices to kick-start their careers with roles in leading companies.
Preparation is key
Get some practice
Ask a family friend or teacher to do a mock interview for you. Practise handshakes, eye contact and answering questions. You’ll really boost your confidence this way.
Research the company
Know their business. Check out their website, LinkedIn presence, Twitter feed and Facebook pages. Do a Google search to see if they’ve been in the news lately. Mention a recent project of theirs at your interview and you’ll look extra savvy.
Plan your travel route
Being on time is vital in business. Decide whether you’re going by car, bus, tube, tram or train. Use an online journey planner to check timetables and allow for rush hour traffic. It might be best to do a trial run if you can. Use Google Street View to look at their office online.
Choose your outfit
Pick out your clothes the night before. Lay them out or hang them up ready to go. Be sure your shirt or blouse is ironed and your shoes are polished. Keep it smart, professional and neat.
Be ready to answer questions
Take a look at the ten common questions that interviewers ask. (You’ll find them at the end of this post.) Be ready with honest answers. Don’t try to learn your answers, just know the main points you want to make.
Be ready to ask questions
Interviews work both ways – you’re also interviewing them to figure out if you want to work there so have a few questions ready beforehand. Choose topics that show you’re ambitious and smart, for example, ask about career progression or whether there’ll be chance to work on an exciting new project that you’ve read they’re launching.
Do your paperwork
A business career will have plenty of paperwork. So if they’ve asked you to fill any forms in advance and bring them along, be sure you do just that.
Bring your CV
Print a copy and protect it in a plastic cover (you don’t want to hand over a crumpled piece of paper).
Carry a notebook and pen
Just in case you need it. Good apprentices are always prepared.
On the day
Leave early. Arrive early.
Knowing you have plenty time will calm any nerves and make your journey much easier. If you get there really early have a cup of tea in a nearby café. Then walk into reception 10-15 minutes before your interview time. If you run late, call ahead and apologise.
Use your mirror
Ready to leave the house? Do a final check that your hair’s smart, teeth are clean and your outfit is neat and tidy. You can use a shop window reflection to do the same just before arriving at your interview.
Switch off your mobile
Choose a completely silent mode. Even ‘vibrate’ can be distracting.
Keeping calm helps clear thinking. Make sure you breathe deeply and from your belly.
Remember they’ve been there too
Interviewers know you might be nervous. It’s happened to them in the past. They want to help you relax so they can get to know you. They’re on your side.
In the room
Smile and make eye contact
You’ll make a great first impression this way.
Shake hands firmly (if they offer)
Don’t crush their hand, and don’t give a floppy handshake.
Sit up straight
It shows respect and looks professional.
Be alert and listen carefully
Giving great answers to questions starts with really good listening.
Answer the exact questions they ask
It lets them know you’ve listened and shows respect.
It shows confidence and interest.
Employers want to hire people who love their business.
Let the employer get to know you.
Be kind to yourself
However it goes, you gave it your best shot. Be proud of that. Don’t dissect every answer and wish you’d given a better one.
Learn from it
If anything went noticeably wrong, think how to fix that next time.
It’s all about fit
Interviews are like trying clothes. The employer wants to know if you’ll be the right fit for their business. And you want to know if they’ll be comfortable for you. Not everyone clicks. And that’s OK.
10 questions to expect
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What do you know about our company?
- What do you expect from this apprenticeship?
- Describe a time you have been part of a team
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Why did you apply for this apprenticeship?
- How would you describe yourself?
- Why do you want this job?
- How would a friend describe you?
- Why should we pick you?
If you are a teacher or careers advisor and would like to provide more information about BPP Professional Apprenticeships to your students, visit our Teachers’ page. We also have a Teachers’ Apprenticeship Toolkit that is available to download, which includes a presentation, CV tips, cover letter tips and template and interview tips..