How To Nail a Job Interview

You’re young, you’re inexperienced, your school grades were poor to middling, and you haven’t accomplished much in life beyond earning minimal wages in a few low-skilled part-time jobs. Yet, you’ve managed to somehow wiggle your way into an interview for a trade apprenticeship program or an entry-level position with the promise of on-the-job training (OJT) to become a skilled trade worker.

Now the challenge is to get accepted. You need to convince the person quizzing you to spend hard-earned money on your training knowing that it will probably be a while before you’re productive enough to generate more income than you consume. By the way, you probably haven’t sat through many job interviews before and are likely shy and a bit nervous. So, how do you get accepted?

Advice number one – and this holds true for all interpersonal relationships, not just job interviews – walk a mile in the other person’s shoes. What would you be looking for if you were the person doing the interviewing? What would indicate that this person (you) is worth investing time and money to train to become a valuable technician?

Advice number two: embrace two somewhat contradictory character traits. The first would be humility. Acknowledge that you don’t have much to offer at this stage of your career. The second would be ambition. However, you are eager to learn and willing to work as hard as it takes to achieve your goal of becoming a top-notch skilled trade worker.

Finally, tout your accomplishments. You probably don’t have many at this stage of your life, but almost everyone has a few achievements that they are proud of. Maybe you were on a winning athletic team. Talk about how that experience taught you the value of teamwork. Maybe you got promoted to assistant manager in a local store. Why did the boss select you over others? Maybe you successfully built or repaired some household furnishings or appliances. Discuss how much you enjoy tinkering with mechanical objects. Talk about how you are not afraid of hard work. (It better be true.)

Above all – and this too applies of all social interactions – be polite. “Yes sir, yes ma’am … please … thank you … excuse me” are expressions that always make a good impression. It shows that you are likely to be able to get along with other people, and this is a positive trait for any walk of life. The trades are not only about working with your hands. They are also about dealing with bosses, co-workers, inspectors, suppliers and many others you will encounter as you go about performing your work. The ability to get along with others is as valuable as any talent with the tools.

Now go get hired.