Applying for an apprenticeship can be a very competitive process and many organisations use video interviews as an initial screening process.
Most candidates find it very unnatural to answer questions talking to a webcam instead of having a conversation in person. With the right interview preparation and practice, it is possible to ‘nail’ the video interview and stand out from other candidates. Below are seven interview tips to help you succeed.
1. Read your invitation letter carefully
The interviewer wants you to do well and will often tell you in advance how many questions to expect and the duration allowed for each answer. It’s common to be asked 4-6 questions and to be given around 90 seconds to answer. Some video interviews will allow you 15 seconds to think about the question before the recording starts and there may be a test question so you can have a practice before you start. Business use video interview because it is a very cost-effective recruitment solution.
2. How to answer Tell me about yourself?”
You’re likely to be asked an opening question such as “Tell me a little about yourself”. A good structure to use is to start with a brief introduction about yourself assuming that the person watching the video hasn’t read your application and may not know much about you. For example;
“I am in my last year of sixth form, taking A levels in Drama, Maths, and Psychology. As well as loving drama, I have been in many performances at Centre Stage as well as at school, we’ve just put on Mamma Mia! l love netball as well and play Goal Defence and play in an adult league each week. I also work in a very busy fish and chip shop most Friday nights and Sunday afternoons where I work on the tills and as a waitress. It’s hard work but I enjoy working in a team and I’m getting lots of experience serving customers. Earning some money is great too!”
Now move on to briefly tell them what your strengths are; “I love working with people and enjoy working in a team. I like solving problems as well which is why I’m taking Maths and hope to get a B.”
Finish off your answer by telling them why your strengths matter to the apprenticeship you are applying for and how motivated you are; “This is why I think an apprenticeship in HR will suit me because it’s all about supporting the people in an organisation and communicating. I can’t wait to start.”
Try not to write out the answer yourself otherwise it’s too tempting to learn it and the chances are you will end up sounding robotic and not answering naturally. Instead, write out some bullet points around the structure a – about me, b – strengths and c -motivation and then practice aloud, deliberately answering the question slightly differently each time. This will help to keep your answer sounding spontaneous and natural.
3. Prepare for “Why do you want to join us?”
Be prepared to answer a question about the organisation, “Why do you want to join us?” or “What do you know about us?” These are easy questions to answer if you’ve done your homework. Look at the organisation’s website and social media channels. Do you think you’ll fit in well into their organisation? What are their values? Have you met any of their staff at a career event? Or do you know anyone who works for them? If so, highlight something they have told you about the business which impressed you. Have you experienced the company from a customer’s perspective or used any of their products? If so, draw on your personal experience; what do you like about their products? What could they do better? If not, who are their typical customers? What projects do they work on? Draw on any research you have done about their apprenticeship scheme. What do you like about it?
4. How to answer “Why have you chosen this apprenticeship?”
Expect to be asked a question about why you have chosen a specific career. For example, why do you want to join a Cyber Security Apprenticeship or Public Relations Apprenticeship Interviewers look for candidates who can demonstrate their motivation with evidence. Your answer should demonstrate that you’ve got a good understanding of the career, what the role could involve and the different career options it offers. You should know what skills the role requires and how it matches your strengths and interests. For example, if you are applying for a Cyber Security role, you need to demonstrate your passion for technology, your knowledge of some of the current issues, and your personal strengths for attention to detail and problem-solving. If you are applying for a Public Relations Apprenticeship you need to demonstrate your interest in some of their PR campaigns. Which one is your favourite and why? You are probably already using social media so tell them about which ones you use. Research their social media channels and mention a story which caught your attention. Refer to some relevant voluntary work or work experience if possible.
5. How to answer; “Why do you want to do an apprenticeship?”
Three of the key reasons for taking an apprenticeship are firstly, the opportunity to combine learning ‘on the job’ and studying for a degree or professional qualification; secondly, the opportunity to earn a salary whilst training, instead of incurring high debts by going to university; and finally, to have a job after you qualify. This is why succeeding at apprenticeship interview is become more competitive.
6. Test your equipment before the video interview
Remember to test all your equipment before you carry out a video interview. Test that the internet connection, device, webcam, and microphone are working before you book your video interview appointment.
7. Dress for an interview
The dress code at work now is more casual but it’s still important to dress smartly for an interview. Avoid solid black or white colours and ensure the light is in front of you, not behind you, otherwise you’ll be seen in silhouette. You want to show the interviewer that the apprenticeship interview is important to you and present the very best of yourself.
Now that you are fully prepared, you can go into the interview feeling more confident and be the strongest candidate. Most important of all, be yourself!