Interviewing an apprentice may seem to be similar to hiring any other candidate. But, apprentices are different and hence it is important for HRs to set their expectations accordingly while interviewing an apprentice for their organization.
Why an apprentice is different?
An apprentice is just setting out for his/her professional journey. So, he/she won’t have years of experience as a regular candidate would have otherwise. Neither the apprentice would have specialized skills that you can evaluate to make your hiring decision. Hence, you must design and plan things differently.
Don’t emphasize workplace experience
Apart from the educational qualification or a sub-college degree, most likely, your apprentice won’t have any work experience or skills to demonstrate. So, it is important not to give academic qualifications a high weightage. Remember, you are hiring them to give them workplace exposure and help them to build the relevant industry skills.
Passion and enthusiasm are key
An apprentice may lack the technical skills but that should be matched with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. Spend most of the interview time with the candidate to evaluate his/her interest in the role, hunger to learn, and in general the passion about the industry. If you are planning to hire him/her as a full-time employee after the completion of the apprenticeship tenure, try to gauge the personality of the person and if he/she can gel in with your workplace culture. While skills can be taught through on-the-job training, passion and enthusiasm are innate skills that cannot be taught.
Ask structured questions
Remember, this could be the candidate’s first formal interview and you need to make them feel comfortable to open up and talk. Start asking structured questions that don’t limit the answer to a simple yes or no. instead, ask open-ended questions.
Look if the candidate has any voluntary experience. Emphasize if it was organized by him/her in a similar domain. Such voluntary experiences do prove a lot about the candidate’s zeal to learn and work.
Here is a select checklist of questions to ask.
What do you know about our company and product/service lines?
(Apart from checking the candidate’s knowledge, it also helps to understand if the candidate has prepared well for the interview. This could be further translated as the person keeps and eager to learn.)
What skills do you have now and what skills do you want to learn here?
(This tells us what goals the candidate has and how he/she hopes to achieve them through this stint)
What is your expectation out of this role?
(This question helps you to seek answers that tells the candidate’s expectation. This will also help you to gauge if what the organization has to offer is in sync with the candidate’s expectation. This is important aspect to understand to be a win-win for both.)
Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
(Answer to this question helps you to understand the candidate’s commitment and determination to stick to the field.)
Keep this list handy while you’re interviewing the apprentice candidates.