Getting to the interview stage: Be sure to follow all the instructions in respect to the job you are applying for. If the vacancy indicates a Cover Letter is required, use this as a way to highlight areas from your Resume' and your experiences that relate to the job requirements. For example, if an essential part of the role requires a current drivers licence then include that piece of information in your Cover Letter as well as in your Resume. Check the cover letter for correct spelling and grammar and tidy layout - the cover letter is part of your application too, not just your Resume, so it should be a summary that addresses the job requirements and links you to those requirements of the job.
So, you’ve applied for your dream apprenticeship or traineeship and have just found out you’ve been lucky enough to make it to an interview. Congratulations! Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your all important first meeting with the company and settle any nerves you may have. Follow these and you may just land that apprenticeship/traineeship you’re after
1. Come prepared.
Do your research on the company, the industry and the apprenticeship/traineeship you have applied for.
Learn as much as you can about what the company does as their core business.
- What do they make or sell?
- What industry do they operate within?
- Where is the business located?
- What kind of duties do you expect to be undertaking within the company?
Find out what to take to the interview and learn what the structure of the interview will be.
Take along your portfolio as evidence of your experience, skills and achievements which may be relevant to the apprenticeship/traineeship.
Your portfolio should include:
- Your resume and application for employment;
- Your career history including any certificates or documents which you may have obtained in past jobs, school or in your private life (from weekend sports, hobbies or volunteer work); and
- Any paperwork or tests you have been asked to bring along.
Double check the address of where the interview will be held and make sure you know how to get there. Plan your transport for the day. If catching public transport, make sure you arrive at your destination with at least 10 minutes to spare. If you’re still unsure, time how long it takes to get there with your selected mode of transport a few days before the interview.
2. Practice the interview with family or friends. Consider some questions the interviewer may ask you and prepare a response for each. Get your family/friends to ask the questions and practice your answer until you feel confident. Common questions include:
- Why do you want to do this type of work?
- What sort of experience do you have?
- Do you have a driver’s licence?
- How will you get to work?
- What are your plans after the apprenticeship/traineeship?
- Do you have any questions?
3. Dress appropriately and ensure your personal presentation is professional.
Start planning what you’re going to wear at least two days before your scheduled interview. This will give you enough time to get something appropriate in case your chosen outfit does not go to plan.
Have your final outfit ready and out the night before and take care of any last minute ironing of clothing or cleaning of shoes if required.
Make sure your outfit is suitable for the occasion; over-dressed is always better than under-dressed.
No scruffy jeans, no thongs, no dirty joggers, and no 'out there' clothing or accessories which are inappropriate or may be distracting.
Keep it simple but presentable; something that will impress your interviewer/s.
4. Arrive at least 10-15 minutes early.
This will give you time to gather your thoughts and double check your appearance. Introduce yourself to the receptionist, tell them of your appointment time and that you’re attending an interview for an apprenticeship/traineeship with their company. If you know who to ask for, tell the receptionist at this time also. If you’re not sure who you will be meeting, ask the receptionist and try to remember their names for when you meet with them. Remember to speak clearly and politely and to listen to the receptionist’s instructions on where to wait for the interview.
5. Turn your mobile phone off or put it on silent.
There is nothing more distracting for yourself or your interviewer than if your phone goes off midway through an interview.
6. Greet the interviewers.
With their first names if you remember them and introduce yourself. Remember to offer a friendly smile and shake their hand.
7. Body language is very important.
Maintain eye contact with your interviewer as much as possible, sit up straight and present a positive, confident attitude when you answer questions. Remember your mannerisms can say more than your words do.
8. Answer your questions honestly and back up your responses with real-life scenarios.
When answering questions, take a moment to think about the question and how best to respond. There’s no rush. If you’re unsure what the question means, ask the interviewer to clarify. The interviewer will be happy to help you out. Make sure your answers are straight to the point and address the question asked. Always include an example of how you have done something in the past and what the final result was. Tell of your successes and also your failures; what you would do better next time.
9. Sell yourself and always try to turn the question to your advantage.
Tell the interviewer of your skills, interests and past experiences as relevant to the position. Reinforce why you want the position. Do not lie - the interviewer will find out one way or another if you do. Just remember not to be over confident or show too much attitude in answering questions. You want to show enthusiasm, but also that you are willing and able to learn and progress your skills with their help.
10. At the end of the interview, ask any questions you may have regarding the position or the company.
The interviewer will be more than happy to answer anything you ask them.
11. Once the interview is over, ask the interviewer when they expect to make a decision by.
Again, sell yourself and your interest and let the interviewer know you will be waiting to hear from them. Thank the interviewer for their time and shake their hand again.
12. If you have not heard back regarding an outcome within the time frame the interviewer said they would get back to you within, follow up with a polite phone call.
In some cases the recruitment processes can be quite time consuming. Your understanding of this process will certainly impress the interviewer when you phone to follow-up. A friendly phone call will once again show your interest in the position.
13. If you are unsuccessful with the position, seek feedback from the interviewer regarding areas for improvement.
Look at the interview experience in a positive light. Take it as a learning experience and something to help you in the future. Take a look at all the tips provided above and ensure you meet the requirements for each. Remain positive; something will come up, you just have to keep at it.
The important thing to remember is to remain calm, confident and honest. Even the person interviewing you has been in your shoes at one stage or another, so there is nothing to be nervous about.
The job interview is often the first chance for you to make an impression on your prospective future employer. Follow these tips and you should be set to make a good one!