How to prepare for a successful interview

How to prepare for a successful interview

Every person looking for work will attend an interview, even for an apprenticeship. They can be daunting at the best of times, even for someone who has attended interviews before.  

Many struggle with answering questions, getting over nerves or really understanding the role itself; so it’s important to prepare as much as possible. Something to take into consideration is that every interview you go to (even for similar roles) will be different. This can differ from the environment of the office to the questions asked, so understanding the business and the role itself is important. When it comes to preparing for your interview whatever the role or apprenticeship it may be, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure that you are ready. This blog goes into depth about how to prepare and ensure that your interview is successful.

Before the interview

Research the Business and Role

If you have been successful in getting an interview for an apprenticeship, the first step is to research the business. Every employer will ask the question ‘what do you know about us?’ which is possibly one of the most important questions to answer. If you are unable to answer, the impression is that you haven’t prepared properly or care much for the role. Look at everything from who started the business to their most recent successes; and you don’t need to just focus on their website. Visit their social media pages (if they have any), read their blogs and even see whether articles were written about them online. The more you know, the more chances you have of securing the role. Another step will be to research into the Apprenticeship you are being interviewed for. Whether this is in Digital Marketing, Business Administration or IT. You need to have an understanding of the daily tasks and goals that could be involved within your Apprenticeship.

Look at Practice Questions

There are questions that every employer will ask which include your past experiences, examples of problem solving and many more. Some of the hardest may not even be about the role, but about who you are as a person. They’re looking to see if you would be a great fit for the business, so find ways to tailor answers to the job. Questions such as ‘tell me about yourself’, ‘what are your strengths / weaknesses’, why should we hire you?’ are just some of what you could be asked. They are looking for someone who can answer these confidently and in as much detail as possible. So researching questions that relate to the role will help you answer confidently. Write down the answers you have for these questions as notes, and you can take these into the interview. So if you ever struggle with a question, you know where to turn.

Memorise your CV

This may seem like an odd step as you are the one who wrote out your CV; but it can be easy to forget what is written down. Employers may tailor the interview questions around your CV, and if you can’t remember what you wrote, this either gives the notion that you’re not ready or prepared. Yet if you are still unsure on how much you will remember, take your CV with you to the interview and use it as a guide for questions.

Wear the right attire

First impressions have a massive impact especially when it comes to what we wear; and this is no truer than when you’re attending interviews. Depending on where you are going you need to understand the environment of the business. Office based roles such as Law Firms will differ drastically to a Digital Marketing agency, which means that the attire will also differ. If your interview with a Law Firm and you turn up in jeans, a shirt and trainers, this will look messy and unkempt. Dressing in smart attire is going to be more desirable and make more of an impression.

Some positions like Digital Marketing or IT Infrastructure, can be in more casual environments. Which means that on a day-to-day basis their attire is more casual. But this doesn’t mean that you should turn up wearing dirty trainers, ripped jeans and a hoodie. Smart shoes, dark coloured jeans and a jumper or blazer or a tea/day dress and boots are great interview outfits for more casual environments.

Plan your journey

Before any interview you should always plan your journey. Take a look on Google Maps, your local travel sites (for those in Manchester use TfGM) or directions to check your distance and travel times. If you can drive, keep checking on traffic news and find the best route to ensure that you’re not going to be late or get lost. For commuting on public transport, triple check on all times and on how long it will take. If you are still unsure about the journey you can do the commute before the day of your interview. This will give you a more accurate idea of how long it will take. For any interviews in the morning, always leave as early as possible to compensate for any morning traffic. Yet if you do arrive earlier than expected, you can always find a café or area to go over your notes.

During the interview

Now the day of the interview arrives and all your preparation comes into play. No matter where and when the interview takes place, there are a number of steps that all candidates should take during the interview to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible.

Arrive 10 – 15 minutes before the interview

Arriving at least 15 minutes earlier shows an eagerness for the position and starts the interview on the right foot. This also gives you time to overlook notes and time for any more research needed. If you arrive more than 30 minutes before, find a nearby café where you can relax and get your thoughts together before attending.

Create a strong first impression

When you introduce yourself give a firm handshake, eye contact and always smile. Once settled ensure that your posture is upright and that you don’t slouch. Don’t forget to take your coat or jacket off! Keeping it on gives the illusion that you want to leave. If you are bouncing your leg, or messing with your hands/nails /hair, try and keep it to a minimal as employers can notice this easily and give off a nervous energy.

Don’t be afraid of small talk

Many employers will ask about how you are, your journey and even if you have any plans for later in the day. You can also ask similar questions, this shows them you are friendly and approachable and able speak with others.

Answer all questions as confidently as possible

Try and answer all your questions as confidently as possible. If you are struggling don’t be afraid to look at your notes, or take a second to think about your answer. You can also take a copy of your CV with you and use that to help with answering any questions. Also remember that you don’t need to answer your question straight away. Interviews aren’t a race, so if you need a moment to think don’t panic. Take your time and look at your notes/CV. You can also ask them to repeat the question to gain more clarity.

You have to power to ask questions

At the end of every interview the employer will ask if you have any questions for them. Here you can find out more about the role, the business, the opportunities available and where they can see the business going in the future. This shows how you are interested in the business and the role.

After every interview whether it was successful or not, you should always thank the employer for their time. They have taken 1 hour or more out of their working day to meet you, so this shows respect and how appreciative you are for this opportunity. Also mention how you are eager to hear back and hope to have the chance to work with them.  

How 360 Apprenticeships can help

No matter where you are in the interview process, 360 Apprenticeships are here to help every step of the way. As we work closely with both apprentice and employer, we understand everything you would need to have the best interview. We go through every step from arranging the initial interview to helping you prepare for the day, and even checking in to see what your thoughts are of the business and role.

If you feel your interview has gone as well as it possibly could then that’s great! But if you are unsure or feel that your interview wasn’t successful, we will be here to guide and help you for your next venture. On our website we have a page dedicated to interview preparation, with links and tasks that relate to each area that we specialise in. So whether you are reading this blog, speaking to us or visit our website, you will always find the right advice and guidance.

If this blog helped you to prepare for you interview, we would love to hear from you! Comment below or send us an email at [email protected]. You can also find us on social media:

Facebook: 360 Apprenticeships

Instagram: @360apprenticeships

LinkedIn: 360-apprenticeships

Twitter: @360apprentices