2 October 2023

What happens after applying for an apprenticeship?

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If you’re here, that means one thing – you’ve applied for an apprenticeship, or three. Congratulations! It’s the first step towards a blossoming career.

But now you’re probably wondering what happens after your application has zipped across the interweb, and landed in an employer’s DMs.

If they like what they see, you’ll typically be invited to an assessment day, followed by an interview, before receiving a job offer.

This guide is here to help you through the post-application journey.

I’ve applied for an apprenticeship, what happens now?

Once you’ve clicked that submit button, you’ll get an automatic email from the employer confirming they’ve received it. From there, it’s a bit of a waiting game.

Usually, the application will first be read by software that scans for keywords specific to the role.

Any application that doesn’t have all or a majority of the keywords, won’t progress. This is usually followed by an automatic unsuccessful email.

Keywords are your best friend and you should litter your application with them.

If your application makes it, it’ll then be read by an actual human who will decide which candidates make it through to the next stage.

How long does it take to hear back after an apprenticeship application?

If you haven’t heard back from an employer, it’s okay.

Competition is tight as there are around 39 applicants per vacancy, and it can take employers a little time to sift through them all. So don’t take it personally.

Should you call after applying for a job?

You should always receive an email letting you know that your application has been received. So there’s no need to call to confirm anything.

Instead, send a short and polite email a couple of weeks or so after applying to follow up. This will also show initiative and hunger. Employers LOVE that.

In the meantime, keep applying for other schemes.

“I’ve been invited to an interview!”


First things first, always do your research. It’ll be immediately obvious if you don’t know anything about the company or role you’ve applied for.

Insta-stalk the company! Discover their values and the who’s-who. You’ll be asked about the role during the interview, so make sure you triple read the job description and research the role further. If the company has YouTube videos about the role, watch those.

Looking up practice questions is always a good idea. Why? Because you’ll get an idea of what will be asked during the interview and how to answer them. Some examples of questions include…

  • Tell us about yourself… Here employers want to know what kind of person you are and what skills you’ll be bringing to the table.
  • Why do you want this apprenticeship?… This is where you really express your excitement for the role. Think about why you applied and draw on that. Employers want to see that you’re keen to join them.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?… Remember, when employers talk about weaknesses, they’re not talking kryptonite or chocolate…but the professional skills you want to improve on.

Ask a friend, parent or even teacher to help you out by doing a mock interview where they pretend to be an employer. The more practice you can get, the more at ease you’ll feel on the day.

Finally, be yourself. It’s instinct to want to give an employer textbook answers, but employers really want nothing more than to get to know the person behind the CV. Niche hobbies and all…

Read our useful blog about interview questions

On the day

  • Arrive early. Think about planning your route the night before so you know how to get there. If something delays your journey, ring the employer to let them know you’re running late.
  • Be your best self. You’ll be meeting new people who you could possibly be working with if you’re hired. Put your best foot forward with everyone you meet, make eye contact, be present, be kind and look presentable.
  • Ask loads of questions. You’ll be given an opportunity to ask the interviewer any questions in relation to the role and the company. Use this time to gather more information about your potential workplace.

“I got the job!”

Congrats!! Now the real work begins.

Like Scar sang in The Lion King, it pays to “be prepared!” So as your first day looms, you’ll need to do as much prep as you humanly can.

Before your first day

  • Dress the part… Always confirm with your employer what the office dress code is beforehand. If you’re unsure, smart clothing will be your best friend. Yes, even if you’re starting remotely.
  • Do more research… You’ve probably done lots already, but a little more won’t hurt. Familiarise yourself with what the role is asking for.
  • Get your documents in order… You’ll be told what to bring in. Usually an employer will ask for passport details or another form of accepted I.D as your right to work. So it’s a good idea to locate everything and put it in a folder ready for your first day.

Your First day

  • Plan your commute and arrive early… There’s nothing worse than starting a new job and arriving late. If you’re starting face-to-face, plan your commute the night before and aim to arrive at least 15 minutes before your start time. If you’re starting remotely, log in around 15-30 minutes before your start time to get set up…
  • Ask loads of questions… Bring a notepad! You’re going to be overloaded with information, so write down all the important things, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything.
  • Be proactive… Do anything and everything. Join that Zoom meeting about sustainability in the company, read the bulletins that have just been released. Immerse yourself in everything happening.

Follow these tips to get organised for your first day!

“I didn’t get the job. What should I do?”

Rejection is rough and frustrating, but your career is far from over.

There could be 1001 reasons as to why you might have been unsuccessful, for example:

  • Not enough keywords used
  • Lack of role knowledge
  • Someone slightly more qualified got the role
  • Didn’t perform well on the assessment day

It’s hard not to dwell on the no’s and why nots, but there are things you can do to lessen the blow and help you to soldier on with the job search…

  • Firstly, be kind to yourself… Beating yourself up about it won’t help. Remind yourself that you are an icon and the perfect job is out there waiting for you.
  • Feel… You’re allowed to be upset and feel all the emotions. That’s just science. The most important thing is that doing this gives you time to process, accept it and move on.
  • Reach out to friends and family… They’ll be your support system and could even be a godsend in helping you find other opportunities.

Asking for feedback

Companies aren’t legally required to give feedback on applications, but it doesn’t hurt to try – especially if you were far along in the hiring process.

If you don’t get a response, check in with your school or college careers advisor to see if there’s anything you can do to improve your CV, cover letter or application tactics.

We also have some super helpful tips and tricks to use before and during the application process:

Application Forms

School Leaver CV Tips & Tricks

Apprenticeship Assessment Centres

If you’re looking for a little post-application rejection inspo…Beyoncé lost the “Star Search” talent show in 1993. Fast forward to now, and she’s easily one of the most influential women in the world.

Keep applying

The good news is there are plenty more opportunities out there. A staggering 321,400 people started an apprenticeship in 2022. You can and will be one of them if you put your mind to it.

The trick is very simple. Keep applying.