How to interview an apprentice

We are pleased to announce the launch of Easy Apprenticeships, our new apprenticeship gateway and recruitment solution for businesses all across the UK! This week’s blog post is a re-share of an article first published on the Easy Apprenticeships website.

When it comes to hiring an apprentice, a lot of the recruitment process is similar to how it would be when hiring any other member of staff. However, one thing that should be treated differently is the interview. 

If you’ve not interviewed an apprentice before, don’t panic – by keeping a few key points in mind and preparing your questions in advance, you can deliver a great interview and find the right candidate for your team.

Read on for our top tips on how to make the most of the apprenticeship interview process, and some example questions to ask that you might find useful. 

What should you look for when interviewing an apprentice?

An important point to consider when interviewing apprentices is that while experience and skill might be a plus, your main focus should be on a candidate’s potential. In some cases, this might be your candidate’s first ever interview, or they might not have much work experience or qualifications outside of school or college. Therefore, you need to be adaptable in your interview approach, and tailor your questions to suit. 

Some traits you should keep an eye out for in your apprenticeship interviewees might include: 

  • Passion and enthusiasm – this one almost goes without saying. If you’re going to make the effort to invest in an apprentice, you want that effort to be appreciated. Although some of your interviewees might not have much work experience, a desire to learn can go a long way.
  • Company knowledge – again, your interviewees may not have years of experience in your industry or field, but you may want to ask them a question about what they know about your company. Candidates who talk about a recent news headline involving your company, or make reference to some of your projects, are showing you that they’ve done their homework and that they want to make a good first impression with you.
  • Ambition – by asking questions about a candidate’s career ambitions, you’ll be able to figure out whether they’re worth your investment. Someone who wants to make their way into your industry will be a productive, hardworking and innovative apprentice, which will ultimately pay off for your company too.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully this should give you an idea of things to look out for in your apprenticeship interviewees. 

Questions to ask in an apprenticeship interview

The questions you ask your candidates should assess their commitment, competency, and level of commitment. You should come away from the interview with a strong sense of whether the candidate you just interviewed is the right person for the job, so it’s important that you ask the right questions.

With that in mind, here is our list of some top questions to ask when interviewing an apprentice:

  • Why do you want to do an apprenticeship? – candidates should be prepared for the commitment of an apprenticeship, and be ready to discuss how an apprenticeship with your company aligns with their career goals.
  • What excites you about this industry? – again, this will show you whether a candidate has put serious thought into an apprenticeship, and will help you identify those who are enthusiastic and eager to learn about your field.
  • What do you know about this company and our products/services? – it’s a red flag if a candidate comes to the interview without knowing basic information about your company. They might not know the fine details of your latest financial report, but you should expect them to be able to at least give a brief summary of who you are and what you do, in order to demonstrate their enthusiasm for the role. 
  • Tell me about a time you had to overcome obstacles to fix a problem – depending on your line of work, apprentices might have to show initiative and a willingness to quickly solve problems. Asking this question gives you an opportunity to see their resourcefulness, communication skills, and other important traits that you want your apprentice to have.
  • Tell me about a time you’ve received negative feedback – this question assesses your candidate’s ability to respond to difficult situations, and how they use them as an opportunity to learn and improve their skills. For younger candidates, an example of this might include not performing well on an exam or assessment.
  • How do you manage deadlines? – this should give you an insight into your candidate’s thinking style, for example how they prioritise different tasks. Depending on your field, your apprentice might need to handle multiple responsibilities at once, so this might be a particularly important question to ask. 
  • Do you have any hobbies that will help you in this role? – this is a great question to ask any candidate, especially those who don’t have much formal work experience. Many volunteering and extracurricular activities provide a chance for candidates to develop essential workplace skills such as communication, leadership, and problem solving. It also gives interviewees a chance to show off some of their personality and talk about their interests outside of work.
  • Where do you want to be in 5 years? – while this will help you understand a candidate’s career ambitions, this also gives them a chance to discuss any personal goals they have that might be beneficial to your business. For example, a candidate who has an ambition to be fluent in another language could be extremely useful if you are a multinational company. 

Final thoughts

We hope this article has been a useful guide to help you conduct apprenticeship interviews. Recruiting an apprentice is a rewarding and exciting process, but if you still need some convincing about the advantages of offering apprenticeships, check out our article with our top 5 reasons why your company should hire an apprentice here

Need some help with the apprenticeship recruitment process? At Easy Apprenticeships, we’re there every step of the way, with a fully managed recruitment service and a dedicated team of advisors to support you. Find out more about how we work on our website here, or call us today on 0203 982 7600 for a free consultation!