What to look for in an apprentice

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Apprenticeships Employers Blogs

Once you’re ready to recruit an apprentice, you’ll need to evaluate several candidates to determine who best fits your company.

While you’d assume this process is the same as for any non-apprentice being hired, there are a few key differences to bear in mind:

  • Candidates will often use apprenticeships as the start of their career and will have little to no industry experience or qualifications
  • Many apprentices are young and will have little work experience to evaluate at all
  • As apprenticeships are often a starting point for a career, you not only need to evaluate if they are right for your business but if they’re right for the industry as a whole. 

Here are our top tips for what to look for in an apprentice.

1. S.P.A.G

Spelling, punctuation and grammar may not be massively important to the role, especially if you work in more of a practical industry but it’s still important to evaluate this in your apprenticeship candidates.  

Good spelling, grammar and punctuation shows the candidates have taken the time to proofread their application and that they have a high level of care for the work they submit. Someone who has numerous spelling and grammar mistakes in their application is less likely to care about the apprenticeship role as much as someone who hasn’t. 

2. Suitable skills and knowledge

Depending on the apprenticeship level you’re offering, candidates may need different levels of industry knowledge and skills. Someone applying for a Level 1 or Level 2 apprenticeship may need fewer skills than someone applying for a Level 3 or 4. 

Many apprentices are young and have limited work experience so you’ll often need to evaluate transferable skills and knowledge, e.g. a long-standing member of a sports team will be used to long-term physical demands which may make them a good candidate for construction. 

Aptitude cannot be taught and the consequences of hiring someone who is a poor fit not only harms your business and productivity, it can harm the candidate’s prospects too. 

3. Motivation

Interviews are the best place to judge motivation. There is a significant amount of self-led development that takes place during the apprenticeship so you’ll need to hire an apprentice that can stay motivated and continue to learn at the right pace. Discuss times they have demonstrated good motivation and work ethic, such as when volunteering, part-time jobs, fundraising efforts.

4. Enthusiasm and positivity

You should also consider who’ll be the best hire for your business in the long term. Enthusiastic apprentices will be willing to try more things and take on more responsibility as their role grows. 

In addition, candidates with a positive outlook will generally perform much better and contribute more than those who don’t. Apprenticeships can be tough and tiring. Positive people will find it easier to get through these periods by finding solutions to problems as they arise rather than dwelling on the issues and ultimately giving up. 

5. Teamwork and interpersonal skills

Regardless of how big your company is, there will always be someone else that your apprentice needs to interact with, from team members to customers. During the interview, you’ll need to evaluate the candidate’s interpersonal communication skills and determine how they’ll fit within your team. Someone who prefers to lead may not be best suited to an environment where they’ll be a junior member of a team and need to lean on others to complete projects. Similarly, someone with low confidence and poor presentation skills may not do well when talking directly to customers. 

Need help recruiting an apprentice?

We know that there is a lot that goes into recruiting the right apprentice for your business so we’re here to take the hassle away so you can focus on running your company. 
Our dedicated team can design bespoke recruitment plans and shortlisting support to suit your specific needs. Our Total People Connect service helps you advertise your apprenticeship, filter candidates, support assessments and interviews as well as managing post-interview feedback. 

Find out more about our apprenticeship recruitment service or call our advisors on 03333 222 666.

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