When hiring an apprentice, you should bear in mind that whilst having technical knowledge and experience is beneficial, it isn’t the only thing that makes a great employee.
Some skills aren’t taught in school curriculums. Skills such as organisation, time management, enthusiasm, teamwork, resourcefulness, and resilience. These soft skills are innate for many people – they are simply part of their personality. It is important to nurture and reward these skills when they arise!
There are countless young people equipped with an array of soft skills that have the potential to go far in Tech and Digital roles, but they are often overlooked in favour of candidates with more relevant experience.
This shouldn’t be the case… After all, technical skills can be picked up along the way. Realistically, we shouldn’t be expecting young professionals to already have extensive hard skills before they go into an Apprenticeship – that’s what we’re here for!
Related Reading: How to Employ an Apprentice: The Complete Guide
To ensure you don’t miss out on these amazing candidates, we have identified the top 5 soft skills you should look for when hiring an apprentice.
Potential interview question: How do you prioritise your workload?
Organisation skills go beyond just having a tidy workspace! Apprenticeship programmes mean your candidate will be working full-time alongside working towards their Apprenticeship qualification, so it is paramount that your newly hired apprentice is able to set goals, plan work, and prioritise strategically.
Balancing work and education will be tough, but those with strong organisation skills will make it look easy. Having truly organised employees that can carry out their duties, meet deadlines and minimise the overall stress level of your company is a huge advantage.
Keep an eye out for individuals who have come to their interview prepared; those who have brushed up on company knowledge, and brought relevant printouts, their notebook, and a pen to take notes.
Willingness to Learn
Potential interview question: Tell me a time when you realised that you needed additional skills or knowledge to be successful.
Most Apprenticeships are entry-level roles so as an employer you cannot expect potential candidates to have the hard skills needed for your industry. While these skills are desirable, they will be taught over the duration of the Apprenticeship.
What is important, is that candidates show a strong willingness to learn. Apprentices learn new things day in and day out. Whether that is specific industry information, company practices and processes or how to use new applications and tools – every day is a school day! Beyond this, if your apprentice is still quite early in their professional career, they may also need to learn general work etiquette and health and safety rules.
Look out for those who have a keen interest in your industry. They may have completed an online course, have some experience volunteering or they might just generally ask a lot of relevant questions!
Related Reading: How to Support Your Apprentice: The Ultimate Guide for Managers
Potential interview question: You have a small disagreement with your co-worker. How would you resolve this?
Humans are a social species. We rely on working collaboratively to survive and thrive! Therefore, effective interpersonal skills are essential for the workplace. When recruiting an apprentice, it is important to know that they can listen and understand what their managers or colleagues are asking of them.
Apprenticeships are collaborative programmes so there is a lot of communication between the apprentice candidate, the company and the Apprenticeship provider. Alongside this, apprentices are expected to interact with customers and work closely with their colleagues; good interpersonal skills ensure the apprentice can listen and connect with a diverse range of personalities. Of course, it cannot always be smooth sailing… It is important that your apprentice can give and take constructive criticism without escalating it into something bigger. This promotes a healthy work environment!
If you’re interviewing a candidate and it feels like a natural conversation, rather than a question-and-answer shootout, that is usually a good indication that they have excellent interpersonal skills.
Potential interview question: Give an example of a time you identified and fixed a problem before it became urgent.
We specialise in Tech and Digital Apprenticeships, and we know that the industry is crying out for natural problem solvers to join their team. Whether you need help troubleshooting connectivity issues, optimising social media campaigns, or debugging code, candidates with problem-solving abilities are crucial to Tech and Digital roles. They do not depend on trial and error, they can approach complex situations calmly, analyse the problem and quickly recognise the issue. Natural problem solvers usually perform incredibly well under pressure, too!
Those with brilliant problem-solving skills will constantly be asking why, make sure to nurture this curiosity as it will hugely benefit your company in the long run!
Potential interview question: What are some of the challenges you expect to experience when starting a new job, and how will you overcome them?
Undertaking an Apprenticeship programme means that the apprentice will learn and grow professionally over the course of 12 – 21 months. To successfully do this, the candidate must be adaptable to new environments, embrace change and accept adjustments in the workplace.
Apprenticeships place an individual into a completely new environment and require the candidate to learn new tools and put new learning styles into practice. Beyond this, the world is constantly changing, too! Candidates need to be able to apply new industry standards as they arise to ensure they keep up with modern trends.
Pay attention to candidates who have a positive, can-do attitude – they will see change as an opportunity as opposed to a challenge.
Related Reading: How to Interview An Apprentice
Technical skills can always be taught, but someone’s attitude, soft skills, and general behaviour are usually built in, and a lot harder to develop!
Tech and Digital roles are more reliant on soft skills than they may first appear. For those who dream of being an IT Support Technician, it may not seem obvious, but it is essential that they have good interpersonal skills. The role requires candidates to be confident enough to talk to different people each day; they need to discuss and identify the computer issue, and then explain how they can assist – all before they resolve any technical problems.