Top five tips for … a successful interview

There are fewer things more stressful than an interview (driving test and moving house probably trump it), but there’s no need to worry about it, if you follow these simple steps and prepare, prepare, prepare.

You only get one opportunity to make a good first impression, so you need to be well prepared for the apprenticeship interview.

  1. 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 even try Googling the company and see what comes up. Also take a look at the latest developments in the industry so you can converse with confidence.
  2. Prepare your answers
    Although there is no set format that every job interview will follow, there are some questions that you can almost guarantee will be asked. You should prepare answers to questions about your personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as being able to explain why you would be the best person for the job and why you want to work for them. You can’t predict what questions you’ll be asked, but you can guess and plan general answers that can be narrowed down on the day. The less you have to improvise, the better, so practise potential questions and likely answers on your own or with a parent or teacher and always have examples ready to support your answers.

  3. Look smart
    Appearances shouldn’t matter, but the plain fact is that you are often judged before you’ve even uttered a word. 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.
  4. Keep calm
    Good preparation is the key to staying in control. Getting a good night’s sleep before the interview will help you feel fresh and motivated. Plan your route, allowing extra time for any unexpected delays and get everything you need to take with you ready the night before. You’re going to be nervous, accept this and move on. Shake the hands of everyone present when you arrive, and keep it natural. No one maintains eye contact all of the time, so just meet their gaze when they’re speaking, and when you are. 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!

  5. Show interest
    You should always have some questions for your interviewer to demonstrate your interest in the position. Prepare a minimum of 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 are the main responsibilities of the position? What can I expect from you in terms of development and support? Do you offer a pension? Do you organise socials for the staff? Try to avoid questions about pay and benefits if you can.

For more information on the interview process, take a look at our section on apprenticeship applications. Good luck!

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