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As you’ve just come out of school or college, or are at least young in life, apprenticeship interviews are going to be based around the skills (sometimes called competencies) that you have acquired. Questions that might be asked will go something along the lines of: ‘tell me about a time when you had to work with a team’.

Skills employers might ask about include:

  • Team work - working as either a team leader or part of a team
  • Problem solving - whether you can take a logical and anaytical approach to solving problems
  • Enthusiasm 
  • Self-motivation - how focused you are on achieving your goals
  • Flexibility - doing a number of tasks to achieve a goal
  • Communication - how well you get on with different types of people
  • IT skills - everyone needs these nowadays
  • Organisation & time management
  • Ability to work under pressure - whether you keep calm in a crisis

While depending on where and what you are applying to, you might also need more technical/practical skills, such as:

  • written communication
  • numerical skills
  • designing/building skills
  • working with children/animals
  • presentation skills
  • business acumen - whether you understand the business environment you are going into

To help you understand what skills you have, and how you might structure answers based on them, you can use the STAR technique. The STAR technique involves four points:

  • situation - think of a situation in which you’ve used the competency asked about
  • task - explain the task in which you used the technique
  • action - describe the actions you took to fulfil those tasks
  • results - name the results that came out from your actions

For example, if you’ve been ask about how organised you are as a person, you might like to say that your juggling of your part-time job and A-levels shows that you are an organised person. You used a diary to plan in advance what you were doing week by week throughout the revision and exam period, and allocated time to both revise and go to work (as well as any partying!). Your result is that you gained good grades at A-levels.

As you don’t have lots of experience at this point in time, you can demonstrate your competencies and suitability for the role through your work experience, interests and hobbies, extra curricular activities and school/college. 

Or you might like to make a list of your skills and define them as either interests, strengths and weaknesses. You can then find accompanying examples or evidence to back them up - and where and how you can improve your weaknesses.

Understanding the job role 

To help you in your interview, it’s a good idea to understand the job role thoroughly. In understanding what skills are needed in the position, you can then tailor your answers beforehand to something you know that they’ll be interested in hearing, which will also help you be less nervous on the day.

In identifying the skills you hold for the job profile, you might also want to see where you exceed its expectations so you can focus on this on the day.

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