By Jessica Houston – School of Marketing Ambassador ◦ 4 min read
Interviewing to find a marketing apprentice can be challenging at times. When there are so many young people currently out of work and looking for opportunities, the pressure is on. As the employer, it is your responsibility to conduct a fair interview process, encouraging candidates to express their passion and skills for a career in the industry while trying to understand who is a good fit for the company. The question is, how do you put the magic back into the interview process and make the conversations dynamic and exciting?
We always think about interviews as being a two-way, exploratory conversation. First impressions count on both sides, so while you are leading the process to find a suitable candidate to join your team, the individuals also try to understand whether they want to work for you. Spend the time listening to who the individual is, whether their experience meets your job criteria and most of all, whether you both feel that there is a culture fit. By asking some interesting questions, you will get a sense of the individuals’ personality and their skill base and they might even challenge you with some curveball questions.
Adopting a consistent framework for your interviews will help you make a fair assessment of the candidates and compare their responses. We advise categorising your apprentice interview questions into three core areas to delve into the candidate’s ability to fulfil the position; motivational-based questions, competency-based and technical skills, along with an opportunity at the end for them to ask their questions.
Most candidates will likely be aged 16 – 24 and therefore might not have a great deal of experience outside of the educational environment or any experience with interviews full-stop. At the start of the interview, try to make the candidate feel comfortable by putting them at ease with the process and making them as relaxed as possible. This will help increase their confidence, which in turn will allow their strengths to shine through - which is the ultimate goal.
We suggest starting the interview with some motivational questions to understand why the candidate is interested in the role and whether they have researched the company.
What is your understanding of our company and what we do?
Why do you want to work for us?
What appeals to you about this apprenticeship programme?
What are your career aspirations for the future?
What motivates you?
What do you feel you could bring to the role?
Although the candidate may not have direct experience in the workplace, they may have transferable skills into the role. These questions will help you understand where your candidate’s strengths lie and how they have been developed.
What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of and why?
What would you say your main strength is? Describe an example of where you have used this skill.
Tell us about a time when you’ve organised your time well - and when you’ve encountered a challenge.
Describe a problem or challenge you’ve had to deal with and how you overcame it.
What are your main interests outside of work, and how would these help you to be successful during your apprenticeship?
Tell me about a time when you contributed positively to a team goal or objective?
Most careers in marketing rely on the ability to learn some technical skills. The apprenticeship’s role is to teach these skills; however, it is helpful to understand whether the candidate has any relatable experience outside of the workplace. For example, have they set up their blog or gained work experience locally? Equally, it is essential to unpick whether the candidate has a genuine passion for the industry.
Tell me about recent publicity or marketing campaign (brand, music, film, anything!) you think worked well. What do you think made it successful?
What have you noticed as a current trend in marketing recently?
Why do you think that social media can add value to a business in this current climate?
Have you got any previous experience in a role of this type / using these tools? [tailor specific to your company].
Imagine you are opening a cupcake shop. What marketing activities would you undertake to get the business up and running and why?
How have your studies prepared you for a career in marketing?
What skills do you hope to gain working in this job?
Once you have finished asking your questions to the candidate, it is always essential to ensure you leave enough time in the end for them to ask any questions. Remember, the interview process is a chance for both parties to assess whether they are suitable for each other and provides the candidate with an opportunity to ask their questions.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us to support your application?
Do you have any questions you’d like to ask us?
Following this question structure during the interview will help you to understand which candidates have potential. It is recommended you refer to the same set of initial questions throughout to help make the process fair, and consequently, it will provide you with an excellent way to compare candidates to decide who is the best fit for your business.
Ensure you write up accurate notes as soon as possible after the interview to provide feedback to the candidate. We know this feedback is more important than ever when it comes to apprentice applicants who have little experience because they can use this to improve their chances of success in the future. Ultimately we want to help as many young people to work as possible - they may just need a little helping hand to get there.
For more guidance on becoming an apprenticeship interview pro, read our fail-safe approach to hiring guide.