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General Chat Thread, Interview for apprentice in General; We are interviewing for an ICT apprentice soon and I've been asked to come up with some questions for the ...
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    BassTech's Avatar
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    Interview for apprentice

    We are interviewing for an ICT apprentice soon and I've been asked to come up with some questions for the candidates. Has anyone done this before and could give me an idea of what I should be asking? Nothing too technical.

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    Valyyn's Avatar
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    Not sure if these will be of any help, but here're some questions I've asked and been asked for ICT Tech roles in the past:

    "There's a laptop there if you want to use it, can you open Word and show/tell me how to change the margins on a page please"
    This shows how much knowledge the have of Word etc and how they would be with explaining things to teachers/students/customers

    "A computer is beeping when you turn it on, what steps would you take to diagnose the problem?"
    This isn't necessarily to get an answer of how to fix it, more to see what steps they would take e.g. Google it, ask my boss, swap the RAM out, etc

    "A teacher tells you "The internet isn't working" on a PC in a classroom. What would you do?"
    Again, just to see how their mind works, "Check the network cable, check local network connectivity" etc

    "You come in in the morning to three answerphone messages - The headteacher saying their PC won't turn on, a teacher saying she can't access her emails in the staff room and a teacher saying a student can't see any of their files when they log on. In what order do you prioritise them, and why?"
    I had this one in my interview for my current job and thought it was a good one - I said that the classroom/student was highest priority as that directly affects learning, then the headteacher not being able to do any work at all on their PC, finally the teacher who can't access email in the staff room

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    I've brought a small pile of bits of computer in and asked the candidate to identify them.

    Last time was a full technician so the objects I asked them to identify were:

    A POE midspan
    A graphics card, which once they had established what it was I asked them to identify which technologies were in use on it (PCI, VGA, DVI, HDMI)
    A laptop hard drive, which i also asked them to identify the tech on it and capacity (both of which were on the label on the top!)
    A crossover network cable which I wanted to see if they noticed and why they might need to be cautious about it.
    A rogue passive USB extender cable installed by someone with a smart board - it was over 12 long and just didn't work!
    An old linksys WAP54 and 3 power supplies, all that physically fitted, all branded linksys, but one was 5v from a switch, the correct 12v one and a 67v 10amp brick from a poe midspan. Asked the candidate to work out which was the right one (the correct voltage is moulded into the case next to the socket)

    I've also been known to bring in two keyboards and asked the candidates to look them over and give me some suggestions as to which would be better in a classroom and which in an office. One of those keyboards was a £75 mechinal gaming keyboard and the other a £2.50 keyboard from CPC. There were no real wrong answers just a thought process I wanted to see.

    The candidate we employed, identified all the above correctly and worked out that the POE midspan belonged with the PSU from the wap54 question! and their thought process with the keyboards was that it would be nice to give the £75 one to the students as it was heavy, and well built and robust and they would struggle to destroy it, but ultimately a bad idea as they would probably just nick it!

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    When we appointed an Apprentice we used a couple of practical IT tasks.
    The First they were given a laptop, projector, speakers and all necessary cables and told to set it up for an assembly.

    The second they were told that a pc had been reported as not working, and it was needed for a lesson shortly. This PC had a lot of problems, from power lead unplugged (at PC and wall socket) USB mouse jammed into Ethernet socket, RAM hanging out of socket, HDD unplugged etc.

    the focus wasn't on if they know how to fix the problems, but the logical approach they took to solving them.

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    Surely you would also need to asses their tea & coffee making abilities?

    I'd say these are essential in a good apprentice!

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    Oaktech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ICTDirect_Dave View Post
    Surely you would also need to asses their tea & coffee making abilities?

    I'd say these are essential in a good apprentice!
    True, although tea and coffee making is easier to train into them than a logical brain process.

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    GREED's Avatar
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    I used to mentor and run dozens of IT apprentices across all employment sectors a couple of years back. I think you have a good raft of questions and practical tests given to you already. But keep in mind that an apprentice, while should have a general interest in IT, and one would expect to have some specialist knowledge these days from just playing around at home, they are at the very start of their careers and this is a route into the big world of work too. It is a genuine alternative to Uni and a very good and respected one.

    So... do not expect to get amazing IT grad style candidates, and expect to have enthusiastic sponges that will absorb your experience and opportunities you give them. They are also likely very young and probably their first proper job... so treat them with respect but also be patient. Apprentices are some of the most rewarding people to work with and mentor, and will give back so much when you take on the right one(s).

    I am still in contact with a bunch I took through fro start to finish as their mentor and assessor and every one is flying high now still in IT across the country and 100% vouch for the route they took.

    Oh, and I realise the 'make the teas' are all in light humour and all that, and even worth a light hearted joke on their first day, but do treat them with respect as you are going to be heavily shaping their minds to the world of work! Gone are the days when apprentices just swept up and made the teas, everything is closely monitored (if you have a good assessing team from the provider.. if not, mine is 3 sugars!).

    If you have any questions from the point you are at forwards just ping me a PM.

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    I AM AN APPRENTICE

    During my interview for my apprenticeship they had me identify a computer and the components in it and what they did if i knew. I actually had a problem opening the cover on a dell pc (I have never played with a dell before).

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    Here is £100, I want you to double my money in 6 hours buying tat from Totenham Court Road.






    What??

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    If you went for a brick laying apprenticeship would they expect you to be able to build a wall on interview?

    IMHO personal skills, aptitude for learning and motivation are more important than IT skills in this scenario. They are obviously interested in IT otherwise they wouldn't have applied. It is your job to teach them not theirs to prove how much they think they know about IT

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    markwilfan's Avatar
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    PS @GREED, 3 sugars! Bloody hell

  12. Thanks to markwilfan from:

    GREED (15th August 2013)

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    Before I got my job as an IT Technician, I worked at Costa coffee. Did that give me an advantage I wonder?

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    BassTech's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies - got a few questions lined up now

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oaktech View Post
    I've brought a small pile of bits of computer in and asked the candidate to identify them.

    Last time was a full technician so the objects I asked them to identify were:

    A POE midspan
    A graphics card, which once they had established what it was I asked them to identify which technologies were in use on it (PCI, VGA, DVI, HDMI)
    A laptop hard drive, which i also asked them to identify the tech on it and capacity (both of which were on the label on the top!)
    A crossover network cable which I wanted to see if they noticed and why they might need to be cautious about it.
    A rogue passive USB extender cable installed by someone with a smart board - it was over 12 long and just didn't work!
    An old linksys WAP54 and 3 power supplies, all that physically fitted, all branded linksys, but one was 5v from a switch, the correct 12v one and a 67v 10amp brick from a poe midspan. Asked the candidate to work out which was the right one (the correct voltage is moulded into the case next to the socket)

    I've also been known to bring in two keyboards and asked the candidates to look them over and give me some suggestions as to which would be better in a classroom and which in an office. One of those keyboards was a £75 mechinal gaming keyboard and the other a £2.50 keyboard from CPC. There were no real wrong answers just a thought process I wanted to see.

    The candidate we employed, identified all the above correctly and worked out that the POE midspan belonged with the PSU from the wap54 question! and their thought process with the keyboards was that it would be nice to give the £75 one to the students as it was heavy, and well built and robust and they would struggle to destroy it, but ultimately a bad idea as they would probably just nick it!
    This sounds very similar to my apprenticeship interview.

    Remember, you're employing an apprentice - they don't have to know how to "fix a computer" yet - they're coming to you to learn how to do the job, this is the whole point of the apprenticeship.
    The best thing you can do is make sure they are actually interested in IT, they're interested in learning the job...they are switched on, want to learn, and also that they understand they're going to have a rubbish wage, at least for the first year, but the long term will make up for it.

    It might be well worth your while having them in for a more relaxed coffee, though they may not need to make it! Another important consideration is their people skills, and how they get on with the team, especially the people they're going to be learning from.

    Other questions which aren't reliant on IT knowledge, but how they have fixed problems they've come across in the past, and how they would calm down a very upset or angry customer might be worth asking?

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