Ambassador view: apprenticeship application advice
Hi there! My name is Bethel and I'm a paralegal apprentice at Squire Patton Boggs. I was an Uptree student before gaining my legal apprenticeship. I've now taken on the role of an Uptree ambassador to help spread awareness about apprenticeships to students like yourselves.
Application season is fast approaching, so now is the perfect time to advise you on how I prepared for my interviews leading me to secure two offers.
How did I do my research?
To kickstart my research for applications, I used the firm’s website to find out its culture and values. I had the following questions in mind:
- Does the firm do any charitable work or pro bono?
- Do they value diversity and inclusion and are there any stats that back their claims up?
- Are they a sustainable law firm and do they have a strategy in place to become more sustainable? I found these stats by looking at the firm’s annual report.
I'd then go on to find one to three interesting firm legal cases. So that if I was asked a question like, “can you tell me about a legal case you’ve read about and why it interests you?”, I would be able to answer it confidently.
Finally, I would do general research on Google to understand the firm as a whole and also to find out if they are a global firm. Have they recently had a merger? Have they opened a new office in a different country? Etc.
What were the most common questions asked in interviews?
I found that the most common types of questions were motivational and competency questions.
For motivational questions, I would suggest you prepare answers for the following:
- Why an apprenticeship?
- Why this industry?
- Why this firm?
While I knew what I would say for motivational questions, I never memorised my answers because I didn’t want to sound robotic.
Competency questions can be challenging to prepare for as there are a handful of skills you can be asked to showcase. I advise you to use the STAR method to answer competency questions. It is also important to write a list of scenarios in which you have displayed key skills such as leadership, empathy, teamwork etc.
STAR method explained
The STAR method is an acronym used to answer competency questions in detail.
STAR stands for:
- Situation: Give context to your answer. Who? What? When?
- Task: What was your role/job/task?
- Action: What did you do to meet the objective? What skills did you use?
- Result: What was the outcome? What difference did you make? Would you have done anything differently?
Advice on how to juggle the workload of applications and A-Levels
To students in Year 13, try to stay as organised as possible while balancing your UCAS applications, mock exams, A Levels, and apprenticeship applications.
I suggest making a list that includes the deadlines of all the firms you want to apply for. Then, as you progress through the application process, add time to your daily schedule to prepare for the interview or assessment centre.
Most firms’ apprenticeship applications fall close to exam season, so I hope these tips will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and help you secure an apprenticeship.
Huge thanks to Bethel for sharing guidance on job applications and interviews. Don't forget to follow us on Instagram for more careers advice and support!