If the thought of attending an apprenticeship interview makes you nervous, you’re not alone. Like driving tests and public speaking, interviews are notorious for making even the calmest people anxious and uneasy. But unlike a driving test, where your examiner is looking for reasons to fail you, an interviewer is looking for reasons to give you the job!
For an apprenticeship, you’ll often have to attend two interviews: one with your training provider or college and another with a potential employer. A good interview can mean the difference between getting on your chosen course and missing out. But don’t fret – DMR has put together its top five tips to help you land a place on your first choice apprenticeship.
#1. Arrive on time
And by arrive on time we actually mean arrive ten minutes early. Getting to an interview late is the ultimate own goal because you’re 1-0 down before the game has even started. First impressions are everything; if you arrive early for an interview you’re showing your potential employer that you’re organised, punctual and taking it seriously.
Make sure you’ve got the address of where the interview is due to take place. If you’re unfamiliar with that part of town, check out the location and plan your route on Google Maps the day before. Using public transport to get there? Don’t take any chances. Look at the bus/train timetable and set off extra early – public transport rarely runs like clockwork and you don’t want to be late because your bus was stuck in a traffic jam.
#2. Dress smartly
Forget about wearing your favourite ripped jeans or Adidas tracksuit. Dress in your best clothes. If you don’t have a suit, don’t worry, it’s not essential. A plain ironed shirt, trousers and leather shoes will do just fine. For bonus points, wear a tie. You can pick one up in Primark for a quid if you haven’t got one already.
And one other thing: ditch the chewing gum. Chewing gum during an interview is like sitting with a big sign around your neck with the words ‘NOT BOTHERED!’
#3. Make eye contact
Even if you’re a nervous wreck inside, your interviewer doesn’t have to know that. There are plenty of tricks to feign confidence – firm handshake, sitting up straight, speaking clearly – but none as important as making eye contact with your interviewer when speaking. Look at the floor and you’ll come across as shifty and insincere. Gaze out of the window and you’ll give the impression that you’re not interested in the apprenticeship and would rather be somewhere else. Look your interviewer straight in the eye.
#4. Show enthusiasm
We’ve lost track of the times we’ve asked a candidate “Why do you want to do this apprenticeship?” they’ve replied “I dunno” (while looking at the floor!)
Starting an apprenticeship is a big deal. This could be your only career for the rest of your working life. That’s 50+ years. Whether you apply for an apprenticeship in joinery, plumbing, hairdressing or accountancy, it helps if you have a real interest in that trade. During the interview, you need to demonstrate that interest to your interviewer. Think about the question: “Why do you want to do this apprenticeship?” Write down your answers and memorise them.
Another great way to show enthusiasm is to ask your interviewer questions about the job or apprenticeship. Again, write down a list of questions to ask before arriving at the interview.
#5. Do your prep work
Remember that old saying “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”? It’s a tired old cliché but it still has some relevance, especially with interviews. To put it simply, successful interviewees do the prep work before the interview. Plan how you’re getting there, what clothes you’re going to wear, what questions you’re going to ask. If you’re going for an interview with an employer, go online and do some research into the company. You’ll get a stack of brownie points if you can show that you already know a thing or two about the company. Don’t leave prep work till the last minute either; do it the day before so you aren’t rushing around at the last minute, creating unnecessary stress.
There you have it – DMR’s top five tips for nailing an apprenticeship interview. This won’t be the last interview you’ll attend during your career. Get it right now and you’ll find it a lot easier next time around. Good luck.
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