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General Chat Thread, Questions to ask at an IT apprentice interview? in General; After many months of discussion, the day is almost upon me for the interviews for my new IT apprentice... I ...
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    Questions to ask at an IT apprentice interview?

    After many months of discussion, the day is almost upon me for the interviews for my new IT apprentice...

    I have a raft of questions to ask, but thought I drop a post here to ask what questions you lot ask at an interview, in case I've missed anything obvious...

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    Dos_Box's Avatar
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    I would suggest not making them too hard. They are an apprentice and there to learn remember!
    I would however cover some basics such as basic fault finding i.e. it won't switch on, access the network and perhaps some safety/security questions such as 'What steps would you take before working on the inside of a computer' and 'If you had to store a list of important passwords, how would you do it?. Questions like these often show how they think rather than what they know and can be useful in selecting the right candidate.

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    Keeping to the extremely simple basics - they're there to learn a skill/trade, so maybe a few questions on how to troubleshoot simple things, a few about data protection (ie do you keep all your passwords the same, together on view, etc). The aim is to see how they'd use logic to troubleshoot things.

    I'd be interested to see what path he/she would be interested to go down in IT.
    For example, he'll/she'll be training as an apprentice to get the basic skills and troubleshooting methods (Maybe get a taste of Networking, Servers, Desktop Support, etc) but after that maybe they'll go down the route of Desktop Support, or Networking, or Server's, etc - it might be asking where they see their future at the end of the apprenticeship.

    Also - their views on bringing in biscuits on a weekly basis. Very important.

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    "A teacher sends a student down to say the internet isn't working. How do you diagnose the issue?"

    Correct answer: ping the machine in question and confirm that it's turned off, but because the teacher wanted to use the computer to get on the internet, the problem is that The Internet Isn't Working.

    Don't ask mean things like the OSI 7 layer model. Do walk the apprentice round on a tour and introduce him to a few people, then canvass them for their opinions later; particularly for an apprentice, who is a blank slate to be moulded in your image, how they get on with people is more important than almost anything, particularly in a school.

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    When I had my apprenticeship interview there was nobody technically minded in the school, so they asked my college lecturer to ask and judge the technical questions. It had the deputy and assistant heads asking questions related to the school, and my lecturer asking technical questions.

    I had a lot of questions on working in schools and safeguarding, and the technical questions varied, like:

    - Explanation of interest in supporting a school rather than a business.
    - Explain the process one would take to solve a situation where one computer in the ICT room not connecting to the network. (The answer they were looking for, which I got right, involved looking through the different elements from simplest [i.e. what's on the screen] to the cables, pinging and the NIC, to simplify it.)
    - How I would maintain, find faults on, manage and possibly (which I did a few months later) go about updating and replacing their printers. This was the biggest make or break for them, because up until then, they had really bad experience with their ageing printers and whatnot.
    - Obvious things I would expect of myself in terms of duties and behaviour. e.g. The routine I should do at the end of the day to make sure everything is off and secure.
    - Interest in activities and coaching for the children, e.g. a computer club for the Y6s and how I would go about arranging that.

    I wouldn't be afraid to get into a specific issue you think they should be able to handle on the job, because that's what they said set me apart from the other candidates. Though I think it's up to you and the head if you want to set people who are enthusiastic about working in a school as better candidates.

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    arwen's Avatar
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    I was an apprentice, and I can definitely back up the asking questions that shows how they think, rather than their current abilities is definitely the way to go.

    It can be worth adding in a "hard question" at the end that you would expect them to get wrong, but seeing what they come up with can show you some of their potential.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arwen View Post
    It can be worth adding in a "hard question" at the end that you would expect them to get wrong, but seeing what they come up with can show you some of their potential.
    Definitely a good idea IMO - particularly if you say at the start that it's an 'extension' question and you're not expecting the correct answer but an insight into their thought processes, I don't see anything wrong with it. If they handle it well, you know you've got a good candidate

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