Facebook Pixel

What to expect from an apprenticeship interview

Women getting hired for apprenticeship position.

You’ve applied for an apprenticeship and landed yourself an interview – well done! Getting this far is a fantastic achievement, and now it’s time to prepare so you can get that apprenticeship.

Think of an apprenticeship interview as a polite conversation, rather than an interrogation. The interview is an opportunity to see if you’d like the apprenticeship and company, as well as a chance for the employer to see if you’re a good fit for the role.

It is natural to be nervous before an interview. The best thing you can do is to prepare well, think about the questions you might be asked, and have an idea of how you would answer them.

Apprenticeship interviews – the basics

Interviews can take the form of one-to-one chats or panel discussions (where there is more than one person interviewing you), in person, online or over the phone; they might be competency-based in content, or focus more on your character or specific situations.

Apprenticeship interviews are likely to be competency-based. They will focus on the things you can do, so you’ll be asked to give examples to show you have the skills needed for the role. However, this guide will also include general advice, hints and tips which can be applied to any interview setting.

During the interview, you can expect the interviewer to ask about:

  • Your skills and experience
  • Your strengths (and potentially your weaknesses)
  • Why you want this particular apprenticeship
  • Your understanding of the construction industry and the job at hand
  • Your future goal

How to prepare for the interview

Remember the “5 P’s” (prior planning prevents poor performance) from school? It’s applicable to interviews too, because it's great to appear well-prepared.

A good place to start is to conduct some background research on the company interviewing you:

  • Visit their website to find out their core values and areas of speciality
  • Find out about any key projects they’re working on
  • Look online for any news related to the company.

Having some basic background knowledge of the company is something employers really appreciate, as it shows you’re genuinely interested in them. It can also serve as a handy way to break the ice.

7 Common Questions

While you won’t know exactly what questions you will be asked, you can be fairly confident that they will be along similar lines. The preparation you have done will come in handy even if you are not answering precisely these questions.

'Tell us about yourself'

The classic first question. There are many ways to answer it.

The key thing here is to keep it relevant to the job – you can talk about some of your hobbies or interests, but don’t go into great detail about your love of cats or football.

Instead, discuss what drew you to the apprenticeship. Talk about why you want to work for that employer and any work or education-related achievements you’re proud of. Keep it personal, open and honest – it’s a good way to let the employer know the sort of person you are.

'Give an example of when you … '

This sort of question is used to find out whether you have the required skills for the apprenticeship. Some common ones include: ‘Describe a time when you demonstrated leadership’, ‘Give an example of when you used your initiative’ and ‘Give an example of when you juggled deadlines’.

You can answer these questions by using the STAR format. This is a method of structuring answers to questions so they highlight particular skills and qualities in a succinct way. Using the STAR method helps with recall too. It is comprised of explaining the Situation, the Tasks you had to complete, the Actions you took and the Results of your actions. Place the most emphasis on Actions and Results.

You can use examples from your work or education experience, but make sure to place an emphasis on the skills the employer is looking for.

'What are your strengths and weaknesses?'

When thinking about your strengths, try to relate them to the job description, and give examples of how those strengths were demonstrated. Identifying your weaknesses can seem much harder to do, but employers ask this question because they want to know about your level of self-awareness and the potential you have for personal growth in a job role.

Try to focus on those areas of your personality that do not reflect badly on yourself and would put someone off employing you. It is better to say, for example, ‘I am too much of a perfectionist’, than ‘I lose concentration easily’.

'What would you do if …?'

This is a scenario-based question which can cover topics such as dealing with conflict within a team or with a client, receiving negative feedback, an unexpected delay in work, a burst water pipe etc.

These questions aim to see how you go about solving problems, so explain your thinking and why you would take a particular course of action. If possible, call upon times in the past when you’ve faced similar problems and how your actions led to a positive outcome.

Again, this can come from an education experience, and not necessarily from a work environment.

'How well do you cope in adversity?'

This is an example of a competency-based question.

It is designed to see what skills you have in specific situations – either at work, in education or in other areas of your life.

Again, you can answer this kind of question by using the STAR format.

'What are you passionate about?'

Questions like this give an interviewer an idea about what kind of personality you are, and what values you have. This is not something you can list on a CV. It might seem like an awkward question to have to answer because it is quite personal, but it can also be an opportunity to relax a little and let them see the ‘real you’.

It doesn’t have to be something worthy like volunteering for a charity. You could enjoy playing a sport, or going to the gym – it helps if you can relate your passion back to something that the employer may value, such as teamwork, organisational skills or staying fit and healthy.

'What is your greatest ambition?'

Towards the end of an interview, you may be asked questions like this. Another typical one is ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’

These are called motivational questions, and give employers an idea of what drives or motivates a candidate. If someone sounds ambitious or has clearly defined goals, this will help an employer to make a judgement about the potential of a candidate.

You could answer with a professional ambition, such as ‘I would like to run my own company by the time I’m 40’, or perhaps a personal goal like wanting to start a family. There is no right answer here, but steer clear of overly materialistic answers. Interviewers will be put off if you say ‘I want to win the lottery’ or ‘I want to have a holiday home in the country’. 

Ask the employer questions

It is important to ask the employer questions too. This usually happens at the end of the interview, although questions may naturally arise from the discussion. It’s good practice to head into the interview with a few prepared anyway. Some useful ones include:

  • What have your other apprentices gone on to do?
  • What kind of challenges are your industry facing?
  • Ask about the company’s key projects, achievements and things they’re proud of as a whole

Finally, thank the interviewer for their time and say that you’re looking forward to hearing from them.

Web design by S8080