Ten Top Tips on Apprenticeship Applications and Assessment Centres

1. Preparation - Ensure that you have prepared for the Assessment Centre. Conduct thorough research about the employer. You may want to include things such as the following : history of the firm, its specialities and products, their ideas around ESG, any charity work they have conducted and most importantly their core values. Having looked at the firm you're applying to holistically means you can have a prep sheet ready read over before the Assessment Centre or interview.

2. Stand out from the crowd- Be aware of the competitive nature of these application processes. When going through the application process whether it be the initial application right through to the final interview, try and think of innovative answers. Employers read and listen to hundreds of relatively similar answers applicants produce and so give some thought on how you can stand out in this process with your responses.

3. Apply for a position appropriate for you - It can be very stressful applying for apprenticeships and often can seem that the more you apply for the higher the chance you have of getting one. This is correct, however ensure that you are passionate about the career path you have chosen, that you know the qualifications you will be studying and that you have a good idea about the opportunities that can come from this! Your passion for your career really does shine through in the interview process!

4. Think of your elevator pitch - In many larger firms, there often isn’t much time for long winded interviews. These can often be short and snappy, and so it is worth researching and preparing a short 1 minute pitch about yourself just in case you are put on the spot by a recruiter.

5. Think about how you answer - When preparing for your application, interview or assessment centre, employers often prefer you to answer using the STAR method. This splits an answer into situation, task, action and result. It gives a clear path in an answer as to what happened, what did you do to fix the situation and what you can work on in the future to ensure you develop from the situation mentioned. Its very transferable to the workplace and so I would highly recommend researching the STAR method when preparing answers such as your biggest strength/weakness or your proudest moment. 

6. Tailored Applications - One size fits all does not apply here… and so one application doesn’t fit all firms. Ensure you tailor each application slightly to the firm you apply for. For example if you applied for a solicitor apprenticeship and one firm specialised in corporate law whereas the other specialised in family law, I would tailor my answers to display advanced knowledge in their specialist sector. Every sentence you include in your application should epitomise why you would be an asset to the firm!

7. Take your time - Please take your time when applying for apprenticeships. Don’t rush your application. Often rushed applications can include mistakes, spelling issues and poor grammar. If you need to take a couple of days to fill out an application do that too!

8. Interpersonal Skills - Often in Assessment Centres and Interviews you can be put in a variety of situations, both individual and grouped. Be confident and make sure your communication is clear and effective. If in a group activity, make sure everyone is contributing, understanding and being included in the activity. Alternatively, in one-to-one interviews, remove the tense nature that can sometimes surround them by asking the interviewer how their week has been or a similar personal question to break the ice. 

9. Experience - Having relative field experience can benefit your application. Begin to look earlier on for spring insight days or weeks you can attend at firms within the industry you have an interest in. This shows employers on your application that you are passionate about your career, you have a focus on the sector you want to work in and that you have gone one step further than most applicants by finding insight days/work experience. This can push your application to the next stage of the process and it also shows the employer commitment to the industry!

10. And finally… be yourself! - Nothing is more valuable or authentic than being yourself. At the end of the day the employer wants to get to know you as a person, your behaviours and skills to ensure that you are a right fit into the company. By being yourself, you can ensure that you could not have done much more in the application process and that if you do get an offer your personality will fit right into the firm you have applied for.

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