With remote working becoming increasingly widespread in the world of work, the same is also becoming truer for interviews. Whether they be for university courses, jobs or apprenticeship vacancies, online interviews are becoming the norm for more people and bring with them a whole set of issues to be aware of. In this article, we focus on how to succeed in an online job interview for an apprenticeship, and how you can maximise your chances of becoming an apprentice with the employer or industry of your choice.
Preparation is key
Preparing thoroughly before any interview is going to prove crucial. Apprenticeships are basically a type of job, so it’s best to treat an apprenticeship interview as being no different to a normal job interview. Be sure to do some research on the company or organisation you’re applying to, including looking at their website to clarify what area of business they specialise in, their services or products and what goals or values they prioritise. It’s also a good idea to practice what you’re going to say in the interview, including answers to questions that are likely to come up. Questions such as ‘why do you want to work with us?’ or more challenging ones such as ‘what would you say is your biggest weakness?’ are all more likely to be answered effectively if you prepare thoroughly before your interview. Going over your submitted CV and personal statement to check what you’ve included is also recommended as you may be asked questions about what you’ve written in the interview.
You’re also going to want to make sure that your computer or laptop is working properly before your interview and that you have a functioning web camera and microphone. It may be a good idea to get a headset for an interview if you want to reduce the likelihood of any background noise getting through. Whether you choose to use a headset or a built-in camera and microphone, it’s important to conduct your interview in a quiet space where you are unlikely to be beset with any distractions. Don’t be afraid to ask your other family or housemates for support in preparing for your interview, such as helping to review your CV or simply agreeing to keep the noise down when your interview’s being conducted. As with any normal interview, it’s also important to ensure you have some suitable clothes available to wear during the interview, such as a suit or a smart shirt and tie.
On the day
Taking the recommended steps outlined above should help you to feel more confident and relaxed on the day of the interview. If you have some free time to spare before your interview, it’s worth using that time to your advantage. If you intend on using a webcam during the interview, it may be best to preview how you and your surroundings appear on camera. Remove or tidy away any unwanted clutter or furniture if you can and make sure the room is as light as possible. Don’t forget to also turn your mobile off to ensure you’re not disturbed. In addition to wearing smart clothing for your interview, you might want to spend five minutes or so practicing your interview answers one last time. The great thing about online interviews is the capacity for referring to notes, so feel free to put a few sticky notes with key points on them around your computer screen if you think they’d be beneficial!
Interview best practice
If possible, try and join the interview at least five or ten minutes beforehand to ensure that you arrive early. When the interview starts, be sure to project a professional and approachable manner to the interviewer. They will be sure to ask you plenty of questions, so make sure you listen to them carefully and respond to them in a clear and concise way. The interview questions you’ve hopefully practiced for should come in useful at this stage. Don’t be afraid to take your time when answering a question or ask the employer to repeat a question you may not understand. It’s common practice in interviews for the employer to expect the interviewee to have some questions for them, so make sure you ask at least one or two thoughtful questions towards the end of the interview.
As with a normal job interview, there are a few things you should avoid doing during the interview process. Always make sure that you give the interviewer plenty of time to talk without interruption. If you’re unlucky enough to have your mobile ring during the interview, quickly turn it off and apologise to whoever’s interviewing you. With more people working remotely, many employers are likely to be sympathetic if you have a few background noises during the interview, although it’s best to politely apologise for them if they do occur. Interviews can be a nerve racking experience for many people, but it’s important to remain as calm as possible during the interview and not to let any nervousness affect your performance. It also goes without saying that you should refrain from talking negatively about your previous employer or college and that you shouldn’t lie about your qualifications or experience.
If you follow all of this advice and prepare well beforehand, you’ll be setting yourself up well for your online apprenticeship interview. Sometimes it’s possible to give an excellent interview, whether it be online or in-person, and find that it wasn’t enough to secure the job you applied for. If so, try not to feel disheartened. If the employer informs you that you’ve not been successful, then don’t be discouraged from requesting some interview feedback from them as this can help you to improve for future interviews. It’s people who approach this process seriously who are most likely to do well in an interview and eventually secure the job or apprenticeship they want, so don’t give up!