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Helping apprentices progress into Higher Education

Interviews

Apprentice Interview Questions... and some possible answer approaches

Tell me about yourself...

Restrict your answer to work related issues. You don’t need to discuss any personal details such as family, interests etc.

Tell me about your dream job...

Keep your answer related to realistic projections of where you would like to be and what you are likely to achieve. Some degree of optimism is expected but don’t over do things.

Why did you leave your last job?...

Only pick out positives of past jobs, and don’t be too critical of previous employers or managers. Restrict answers to statement of your future ambitions and the way the past situation perhaps didn’t offer progress to that.

What is your biggest weakness?...

Again you need to remain positive and try and state ‘weaknesses’ that have positive strengths in disguise. For instance - “I like to always be prepared for new situations and spend a lot of time thinking them through!”

What are your strengths?...

Think about the role you are applying for. What kind of attributes does this require? Pick out your strongest points and reflect this in your answer. You might need only two or three to answer adequately - but again be realistic and honest.

What do you know about the type of work we do?...

Prepare well by looking thoroughly through the businesses website before the interview. If you know someone who works for the organisation ask them about the business and what it does or is planning to move into.

Why should we take you on as an employee?...

Here you can re-state some of your attributes. A good answer would cover some strengths - such as enthusiasm, good time keeping, hard-working, happy about being and working flexibly.

Would you consider yourself to be successful?...

Think of the successes in your life. These may seem relatively trivial - but you don’t need to over-state success. Success may be small milestones - getting a good range of GCSE grades, completing a B/TEC, being part- of a winning or successful team.

Why have you been unemployed for such a time?...

A good answer would be stating how you used the time whilst not working to build your skills and experience. You could talk about courses attended or volunteering or other personal or family responsibilities undertaken whilst looking for work.

What do fellow workers say about you?...

You can re-state any compliments you have received, but avoid big headed or too self-congratulatory.

How long would you expect to work for us if we give you the job?...

Be aware of the training period and factor that in to your answer. Don’t give a specific time but talk about positive and productive benefits you yourself and the organisation.

Are you overqualified for this job?...

You need to use your skills and experience to reinforce your suitability for the job. Be confident and show how your talents adequately cover what you believe are the requirements. Don’t dither or question your suitability.

Describe your management style...

If you are faced with this question, you need to think of desirable attributes for managers - such as inspiring others, communicating effectively, building relationships and trust and the like, and think how you might say you would do each of them.

Are you a team player?...

Definitely not a good idea to deny this for most jobs. You might like to pre think of situations where you have been involved in team work to achieve a successful outcome.

What is your attitude to work in general?...

Probably a good idea to think of all your positive attitudes towards work. You will need to show yourself as having a range of qualities desired by employers - such as being enthusiastic - hard-working, dedicated, giving attention to detail, making sure a good job is done, completing work on time and to a high standard ...and the like.

Why do you think you would be well matched to this job?...

Consider your previous work experiences and pick out positive attributes you have displayed. How have you dealt with crises and problems? How have you dealt with the unexpected? How have you made a positive contribution to success?

How do you react to pressure at work?...

Think about situations where you have been under pressure and formulate an answer which highlights your skills in terms of organisation, prioritisation or sequencing, not forgetting to perhaps mention your flexible and hard-working approach. You could also refer to you experience of teamwork in such situations.

What motivates you to give your best to a job?...

Clearly money and prospects might be at the front of your mind. However it’s not a good strategy to refer directly to the monetary rewards, as you don’t want this to appear as your sole motivation. Instead you might wish to state your preferences for working on interesting and innovative projects, close team work support or supportive management giving clear leadership for example to give you a more rounded appearance.

How will you know you have been successful in this job?...

You will have to think about the factors that would constitute success in the particular role you are applying for. These might be qualitative or quantitative, but you would be advised to think about the kinds of targets you might be expected to meet, and display your enthusiasm for meeting or exceeding these.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?...

Here you need to be realistic but positive. Project a reasonable set of possibilities for your future career pathway which doesn’t show you up as being detached from reality. You may wish to state your case then turn the question by asking where such a pathway as offered by the job would reasonably lead a person towards.

Are you happy to receive criticism of your work?...

You need to use your answer to show that you view fair criticism as a good way to improve and raise your game, perhaps giving an example of how you have used criticism to raise your past performance or quality or appropriateness of your output or approach.

Do you learn from your previous mistakes?...

To deny you have ever made previous mistakes will make you look arrogant and this will count against you. However be cautious in disclosing details of past errors - but use the opportunity to say how you have learned from consideration and reflection of previous experiences and issues you have met in the workplace - especially those which didn’t quite work out as you expected.

Do you have any questions for me?...

It’s not compulsory to ask questions at the end of the interview. However this is a brief opportunity to make it look as if you have done your homework if you have two or three questions appropriate to the works situation, or the business or the location or arrangements for working. However don’t go on for too long. Interviewers will most likely already have made their minds up about your suitability during the course of the interview

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