How to Hire a Talented Apprentice
While the apprentice role consists of training and development, many apprenticeship candidates bring their own talents to the table.
There’s a lot of variety in the candidates that will find their way to your job ad, so how do you spot the talented ones and hire an apprentice that fits your business?
We’re taking you through the steps to hiring your next apprentice, so you employ a candidate that even Lord Sugar would be proud of.
The Hiring Process
The hiring process for an apprentice is slightly different than what you may be accustomed to with a more experienced candidate.
There are several services that you can use to advertise your apprenticeship. From private job boards to social media, you want to get as many applications in for relevant candidates as possible.
Here are some of the places that you can advertise this vacancy:
Part of your success in this stage will come from how enticing your job description is. Emphasise what you can offer an apprentice, whether it’s a high hourly salary, additional mentoring opportunities, or an extra holiday on your birthday.
Be realistic with the job that you portray too: don’t promise the world if you’re not willing to deliver! Ensure you’re able to fulfil your commitments fairly.
Ensure you’re using inclusive language in your job description too. Innovative platforms such as Textio can analyse your job description for words or phrases that may lower your changes of attracting a diverse talent pool.
When reviewing your applications, remember that many younger potential apprentices won’t have traditional work experience to draw on. Instead, look for other experience that might point to a star performer, such as volunteer experience, hobbies, or outstanding academic results.
All of these can point to a candidate with potential, even if they don’t have traditional work experience.
Questions to Ask at an Apprenticeship Interview
Once you have the candidates shortlisted, it’s time to invite them to interview.
If you’re hiring for an entry-level apprenticeship, you might need to be inventive with how you assess the quality of the candidate, as many candidates won’t have traditional work experience.
Firstly, you want to break the ice. If this is one of their first job interviews – or even if it’s not! – they’ll likely be nervous, so throw them an easy question that makes them more comfortable and gets them talking. This could be a question about their hobbies, volunteering experience, or another aspect of their CV that will get them chatting. Getting to know one another creates a rapport that will allow you to better gauge their character.
You should aim to find out where the apprentice’s passion comes from and whether they’ll be committed until the end of the course. If they seem unsure about what draws them to the position or don’t know much about the industry, then it might not be the right fit.
Assessing the personality and bare bones of a person can be tough, but follow your gut and look for signals that they care about the training you can offer.
Always ensure that you present the job and company in a positive light. The apprentice has to choose to work for you too, as they may be interviewing with other employers. Make a good impression and show what makes your company shine.
Here are a list of conversation sparking questions to get you started:
- “I see you’ve completed volunteering experience at [company name], what drove you to seek out that position?”
- “In your studies at [school] was there a topic you particularly enjoyed? Can you tell me more about what you liked about it?”
- “Tell me about a time in which you were torn between two difficult options, what did you choose and how did you decide on the outcome?”
- “What kinds of hobbies and activities do you enjoy in your free time?”
- “Can you tell me about a time in which you’ve had to overcome a challenge or come up with a creative solution to a problem?”
- “What about [apprentice subject area/employer] appeals to you?”
- “If you were able to travel anywhere in the world, where would you like to go?”
Challenges of Hiring an Apprentice
Apprentices are slightly different to other employees, as they’re in the role to learn as well as work. This brings some challenges that you’ll want to be aware of, so you can mitigate any issues that may arise.
While not every apprentice is a young person or in an entry-level role, many of them will be inexperienced in the world of work. Communicate what is expected from them in terms of productivity, timekeeping and professionalism right at the start.
Workplace norms you take for granted might not be obvious to others, so ensure you give your apprentice regular feedback if they’re doing something out of place.
Make sure that the role you’re asking the apprentice to do is closely related to the apprenticeship standard. If there’s a disconnect between the training and the role, then even a talented apprentice may be less committed to completing their certification.
20% of the time that the apprentice spends with you should be dedicated to off-the-job training. Some employers mistakenly believe that this means they are required to attend college classes or other in-person training once a week, which could be inconvenient.
However, the 20% training requirement can also be fulfilled much more flexibly through online learning. This allows apprentices to learn at their own pace and shape their study around their everyday tasks rather than dedicating one day a week solely to training, improving your star apprentices’ performance.
Supporting and Mentoring a Talented Apprentice
Selecting a mentor for your apprentice is a requirement and will go a long way to making your apprentice feel nurtured.
Your mentor should be an advocate for your apprentice, introducing them to other staff members, giving them feedback, and assisting them when they’re stuck.
If this is the first apprentice that the organisation has taken on, then this may be a learning experience for the mentor too, so bear in mind any additional support they might need.
Throughout the course of the apprenticeship, you should also consider where the apprentice will fit into your organisation after they’ve finished their course. If you’ve nailed your hiring strategy and found a truly talented apprentice, you’ll want to keep them on board after their apprenticeship finishes.
Letting them know that there’s a job waiting for them will also be a big motivator in helping them complete their course and plan a future with your company. Uncertainty about their role after the apprenticeship ends can cause unnecessary stress and cause apprentices to look elsewhere.
Businesses looking to hire an talented apprentice can benefit from many positive perks, from a reduced wage bill to fresh perspectives on the business.
As long as you’re open-minded about how your less-experienced candidates might show their talent, you’re sure to find your latest star performer.
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