When it comes to making a choice between an apprenticeship and a university degree, some people just want to have their cake and eat it. Competition for a degree apprenticeship is high, so how do you prepare to give yourself the best chance?

Many talented individuals across the Liverpool City Region are turning their attention to Degree apprenticeships that combine the benefits of apprenticeships with a university degree. Naturally, these are popular and competition is tough. So how do you prepare when you find you have been offered an interview for a degree apprenticeship?

Degree Apprenticeships span a wide range of subjects from Civil Engineer to Nursing Associate. The Apprenticeship Support by Be More Team has some top tips for prospective applicants. They have extensive experience of watching successful candidates land the degree apprenticeship they are looking for.

The first tip is to understand that the interview is more of a job interview than it is to assess academic aptitude. A university works closely in partnership with your employer to provide the academic content of your training. However, it is the employer who will make the ultimate decision on whether you are successful. They are investing in you, so this is effectively a job interview with high stakes. “They’ll be looking for someone who is enthusiastic and passionate about the role and their industry. They’ll want to hire a career-minded individual who can deal with responsibility, balance work and study, and who will, ideally, stay with the company long after gaining their qualification,” advises Anthony Hamer, Apprenticeship Support Skills Broker.

The second tip is to start with some research. The interviewer is bound to ask you what you know about the company and what you understand about the role. There’s no reason to be unprepared for these questions. Re-read the job description and be able to explain how you are the right person for the opportunity. Carry out research on the company’s website so you understand what services they offer, what projects they are involved in, their history, etc. Be aware that sometimes companies have multiple websites, with their corporate sites separate from their customer-facing ones.

Our next tip is to be ready for the ‘tell me about yourself’ question. The question sounds pretty straightforward to answer, but some people find it difficult to ‘sell themselves’. The best way to prepare for this is to read over your CV and cover letter. That way you can draw on specific examples of your achievements, interests and goals.

Tips 4 and 5 are about professionalism and looking your best. “Wear business/office clothing and you can’t really go wrong,” advises Anthony. “Remember the interviewers are your future managers and colleagues, so treat them accordingly. Shake hands when meeting and parting, be polite, keep your answers professional maintain eye contact, smile, and remember to say thanks at the end of the interview. It’s also worth checking your online presence beforehand to make sure there are no ‘compromising’ photos of you on social media,” he continues.

Tips 6 and 7 are about being positive and asking questions.  It’s important that you like the company as much as they like you. Remember the company is looking for a future long-term employee. “Don’t forget that this process is a two-way street particularly when considering a Degree Apprenticeship. You’ll be committing to working for the company for the number of years required to gain your qualification and, if successful beyond that. The interview is a great opportunity to find out what you need to know about the company and your role in order to make a sound decision,” says Anthony.

Tips 8 and 9 are designed to seal the deal. Tip 8 is to plan for the day. When it comes to being prepared for your interview slot, be sure to know where it is, when it is, and who will be carrying out the interview. Plan your journey so that you arrive early and find out who you need to ask for when you arrive. Showing up late to an interview will most likely count against you, no matter how apologetic you are.

Tip 9 is simply to make sure you stand out. “You want to make an impression that sets you apart from the competition. You may wish to draw upon some experience or skills you have. Perhaps you’ve done some volunteering or part-time work that relates to the role. Weave this into your answers to relevant questions,” advises Anthony.

Tip 10 is to practice your interview. “Think about the questions you may be asked at interview. Many are on the internet, but most are common sense. Put yourself in the position of the interviewer and think about what they will want to know about you.  Draft some questions and get a friend to ask them to you. Get them to give you feedback on your answers. Perhaps video yourself. The more you practice the better you will get,” concludes Anthony.

If you would like further information on apprenticeships and how to apply for them, talk to the Apprenticeship Support by Be More Team They provide impartial information and advice on apprenticeships across the Liverpool City Region.