Once you’ve had your interview confirmed, you only get one opportunity to make a good first impression. Make sure you’re prepared for the apprenticeship interview
There are few things more stressful than a job interview. Luckily, there’s no need to worry about it, if you prepare, prepare, prepare!
Do your homework: Fail to plan, and you plan to fail. You are certain to be asked specific questions about the company, so make sure you’ve done your homework. You can find useful information on their company website, look for details about the company culture, their mission and values. You could also speak to someone who already works there, or look up the company online. Also take a look at the latest developments in the industry so you can talk with confidence.
Prepare your answers: You can’t predict what questions you’ll be asked, but you can plan general answers that can be narrowed down on the day. Can you answer the following?: What are your goals? Why do you want the job? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why should they hire you? The less you have to improvise, the better, so practise potential questions and answers on your own or with a parent or teacher. You should also prepare questions that you want to ask about the role, the company, benefits and future progression. An employer will want to hear these, and asking good questions will demonstrate how keen you are on getting the job.
The interview: Interviews vary depending on the employer. Remote interviews (either over the phone or via video conferencing) are becoming commonplace. Some companies still do lots of one-on-one interviews on a single day, and then make their decision. Others prefer two interviews; the first to whittle down applicants from a long list, the second to make their final decision. Some employers even meet their applicants all at once, to see how you would react in a group setting. Find out what the format of the interview will be when the employer gets in touch so you can prepare. If you are booked in for an online video interview, it’s a good idea to test out the interview platform in advance. Use the best internet you can access and find a nice, quiet place where you will be able to talk without distraction – it might be a quiet café or a local library if your home is noisy or has dodgy wifi.
The location: There’s nothing worse than stressing about being late to an interview! Make sure you know where you’re going ahead of time, and how you will get there on the day. It might even be a good idea to visit the location ahead of your interview, to time how long it’ll take you to get there.
The day before
Dress code: It’s always best to wear something smart, even if the employer is a casual startup or a car mechanic. ‘Smart’ is open to interpretation, and you should always wear what makes you most comfortable, but don’t let your appearance speak louder than your words. Make sure your shoes are clean, your clothes fit correctly, and that your accessories are subtle. Dressing one level above the job you’re applying for shows a desire to succeed. Don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion about your outfit choice from a friend or relative.
Things to bring with you: You may need to bring a portfolio of work, a passport to prove you have the right to work in this country, or your CV. Check you have everything and make sure it’s ready the day before, so you won’t forget it.
Get to bed early: Getting a good night’s sleep before the interview will help you feel fresh and motivated.
Be punctual: Don’t be late. It’s easy to be delayed or get lost. Make sure you give yourself enough time to get to the interview, both to be punctual and to avoid having to rush – arriving frazzled after a mad rush is not the best way to start an interview! Arriving too early (more than five minutes) is also a no-no. Employers need to know that you can keep to schedule, so go and get a coffee if you’re early.
Keep calm: You’re going to be nervous, but you’ve got this. Shake the hands of everyone present when you arrive, and keep it natural. Try not to fidget, and keep your hands clear of your pockets. Remember to speak clearly, smile, and remember that your interviewers are just normal people. If it helps, ask for a glass of water. Even if you’re not feeling confident, act it!
Show interest: You should always have some questions for your interviewer to demonstrate your interest in the position. Prepare three to five questions, some which will give you more information about the job and some that delve deeper into the culture and goals of the company. Good examples of questions could include: What would a ‘day in the life’ of this role look like? What can I expect from you in terms of development and support? What is the company culture like? Questions about pay or benefits might be appropriate but ask them tactfully and try not to look like you’re focusing too much on them – employers want to know that you care about the work, not the money.
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