Zoe Thorpe: My Interview Tips for Apprentices

  07 February, 2021      CareersIndustry Insights
Zoe Thorpe: My Interview Tips for Apprentices

This week is National Apprenticeship Week in the UK and we know that there are sure to be many would-be apprentices up and down the country nervously prepping for interviews. So, we asked our People Development Manager Zoe Thorpe for her top butterfly-busting tips to help you interview like a boss.

Over to you Zoe…

Remember, It’s Okay to be Nervous…

We’d be surprised if you weren’t to be honest.

Interviews are always going to be a bit nerve wracking, even for the most experienced of people.

After all, there are a whole raft of imaginary obstacles to contend with:

  • Talking to someone you’ve never met before
  • Wondering how much of a grilling you’re going to get
  • Trying to remember the interviewer’s name to ask for at reception
  • Focussing on not tripping over anything on the way in
  • And the classic, avoid spilling any drinks down yourself at all costs

Okay, maybe a few of those are just me.

But it is important to remember that we’ve all been there, including the person interviewing you. They will understand if you talk a bit quickly or lose your train of thought a few times.

So, one of the best pieces advice I can give is actually a bit of a cliché: try to relax – take some long deep breaths before you start.

At the end of the day, you know your stuff, and you got this.


“Failing to plan is planning to fail”

In my opinion, you can never be too organised for an interview.

It is always best to plan ahead – aim to be early for your interview and give yourself plenty of time to get there. In the worst case, you arrive way early and end up re-reading your CV a few dozen times.

Plan your route and know how long it will take you to get there. You could even do a trial run beforehand to get more familiar with the roads.

If it’s a virtual interview, make sure you download Teams or Zoom the day before. This will give you enough time to test your camera, audio, and microphone.

You can also plan ahead by:

  • Printing out extra copies of your CV and taking them with you just in case you are asked for one.
  • Research the organisation and be ready for the ever-classic ‘what do you know about us?’ question. Spending half an hour on the company’s website before the interview can go a long way.
  • Practice your interview with a family member or friend and ask for their feedback. They’re probably going to give you the job though.

“Communication Works for Those Who Work at It”

“Effective Communication Skills” may be littered throughout your C.V because it sounds cool, well now’s the time to prove you have them.

No matter how technically suited to the job you are, you’re also going to need to show that you’re easy to get along with and would integrate well into existing teams within the organisation.

That’s why I would suggest trying to build a rapport with the interviewer from the off.

I realise that this does come easier to some people but making sure you at least have an open and receptive body language, make eye contact when you speak, and offer a friendly smile, should stand you in good stead.

Oh and the same goes even if you’re interviewing over Teams or Zoom too.

Assessment Days

In an Assessment Centre situation, it’s really important that you communicate with the other candidates.

Even before the assessments formally begin and you are all milling about, try to have a chat with 1 or 2 people.

Firstly, it may help calm some of your own nerves and secondly, familiarity might make it easier when you come to be assessed in team situations.

Yes, they might be your competitors but the assessors will be looking at how well you interact as part of a team, what you contribute, and how well you build rapports with those around you.

Finally, you never get a second chance at a first impression, so make sure it counts.

Make an effort with your appearance; dress to impress.

You can’t really go wrong with business attire to give the impression that “I’m a professional and I’m serious about this job.”


Do You Have Any Questions For Us?

A classic mainstay of the interview process -“do you have any questions for us?” is definitely going to crop up.

In response, about 80% of candidates are going stare off into space for a second, before coming up with a polite variation of “no.”

So to make sure you stand out from the crowd, write down a few questions about the company or role before you attend the interview.

Asking questions tells the interview that you have a genuine interest in the opportunity.

Some ideas might include: What are the next steps in the interview process? What do they enjoy about working for the company? What can you expect from further development from the company? What will the first 6 months of my employment entail?

Answering Questions:

Be clear about what the role description is asking of you. Before the interview, have think about your skills and how they fit into the skills required.

You will be asked to provide examples of work that you’ve done or when you’ve worked well in a team.

I know it can be difficult to answer these questions when you might not have started work yet, but think about how your summer job, weekend job, work experience, sports teams, social groups, and family activities, have developed you as a person.

If you have worked before, share examples of work from a previous employer that will support your answers.


National Apprenticeship Week

Between 8th-12th February we’ll be celebrating all-things apprenticeships – revealing our shining star apprentices and posting special content that will hopefully inspire young people to take up a place on the Novus apprenticeship scheme.

Keep an eye out on the Novus social media channels for more!

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