Interview Questions You Should Be Asking

Interview Questions You Should Be Asking

Since COVID-19 hit, you could say job-hunting has changed a little with interviews now being completed over Zoom or an increase in phone interviews but the actual format of an interview hasn’t changed. Unfortunately, that includes the awkward tumbleweed moment at the end when you’re expected to have questions. At the time, you’re usually pleased the interview is nearly done but it’s important not to give your potential employer the impression that you’re not committed or that they’ve already taken up enough of your time. 

So here’s 10 possible questions you could reply with when the infamous question arises.

1. What do you think are the most important qualities for a person to excel in this role?

When the time comes to ask a question, it’s obviously easier to say you have no questions but asking this question instantly makes you look like you’re interested in the role you’re applying for and you’re determined to progress.

2. What does a typical day look like?

An easy one to add in if you’re feeling less confident which will prove to the interviewer you’re intrigued by the job but could also settle your nerves if (fingers crossed) you get the job and you’re wondering what you’ll be doing.

3. What are the biggest challenges that someone in this role would face?

This one’s helpful for you as well as your interviewer; it shows them you’re not afraid or naive of the challenges ahead and will also prepare you for later on.

4. Can you give me examples of projects I’d be working on?

As with the other questions, you’d be showing your interviewer you’re interested in what you’d be doing but also suggests you’re aware you’d be working on more than one project at a time and aren’t afraid of multi-tasking.

5. How will I be trained?

Short but sweet, this question gives the impression you’re eager to learn and progress within the position you’re applying for.

6. Where do you see this company in the next few years?

This might seem risky but by taking a polite interest in the company, you’re showing the interviewer you’re ready to be part of the team, whilst subtly implying their company will be onto even better things in the next few years.

7. Who will I work with closely?

You might’ve said in your interview you’re a “team player” or you have experience working in a team but asking this actually shows it, implying you’re eager to meet your potential team and contribute to it.

8. Who will I report to directly?

Not only does this inform you of something you will actually need to know, it also reassures your interviewer that you’re not afraid of figures of authority and understand what your position within the company would be.

9. What are the next steps in the interview process?

As previously mentioned, by this point you could be pleased the interview is nearly over, the nerves can settle and you’ll be out soon but by asking this question it shows you’d be eager to hear from them again and start work.

10. Can I answer any final questions for you?

Given that the purpose of the interview is to find out more about you as a potential employee and to discover if you’d be right for the company, this is a great question to ask. Naturally they’ll have asked all the questions they’d planned to and they’ve probably got a good idea of your skills and experience but this gives them the opportunity to find out a little bit extra or even just to show you’re confident and comfortable talking with them.

Now you can go into your next interview confident you can answer all of their questions with no excuse for saying “No, no questions here” (and cue awkward silence). Hopefully, these have been / will be of some help to you and ensure you give the right impression.

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Beginner’s Guide To Digital Marketing

A Beginner’s Guide To Digital Marketing – By A Beginner

If you’re reading this, you probably have an interest in digital marketing, or an apprenticeship – maybe even both! As someone who’s just starting out as a Digital Marketing Apprentice, let me give you some tips I’ve found about settling in the workplace. First day can make you nervous, but just relax – and if there’s other apprentices you’ll be working alongside, they’ll feel the same way. Be friendly and nice to everyone, and not a lot could go wrong.

Once you’ve settled in, one thing you’ll need to do is concentrate. What I do to concentrate is listen to some music, only having one ear in, to listen to everyone else and to still be able to communicate. Sometimes the best thing to do to concentrate, when you’re struggling to, is to take a breather, and come back to it later. Everyone has their own ways to help them concentrate, you’ll just have to find yours.

What I mainly do, and enjoy doing, is designing the graphics for the Twitter account, how I got round to doing that was coming up with a colour scheme and a pattern design to use. And how I got round to coming up with that; I took the existing logo, made a colour scheme from it, and saw how the shapes in the logo were mainly rounded – and I used those factors to create the patterns we currently use on Twitter. Once you have a pattern and colour scheme down, and once you’ve made your first piece, you can reuse the design you’ve made in multiple creative ways – don’t be afraid to play around and see what you can do.

Speaking of Twitter, you’ll probably find yourself using this as part of Digital Marketing, one of the ways of getting followers at first will be to follow quite a few people, and see who follows back, but with this method, you’ll need to watch the numbers of your following, and focus on following on people who’ll follow back first. Eventually you’ll need to cull the number of following down, but this method should be good for starting you off. Don’t forget to make your Twitter all fancy and good looking, it’ll help! Another important tip is to stay active, make yourself quite a bit of content to use down the line, so you can keep posting at least one thing daily, or however often you’d like to post – main point is to stay active. 

You’ll come across some problems along your way, that’s fine – everyone does, the best thing to do is to try your best to solve these the best way you can, and not be set back by issues arising. Just keep a calm and clear head, and if you need to, just take a step back, take a breather and come back to it later.

Just don’t worry about starting out, everything will be fine and you’ll enjoy yourself at your new apprenticeship!

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Things NOT To Say In An Interview

Things NOT To Say During An Interview

– Have I got the job yet / So when do I start?

This will automatically send alarm bells in the interviewer’s head, this will make the interviewer find you very arrogant and cocky. You should never assume that you have the job until you are told that you have.

– When will I get a pay rise?

Asking for a pay rise is probably the rudest question that you can ask. You don’t even know if you have got the job yet so you haven’t even proven what you can do yet. The employer will automatically think that you only want the job for money and not because you are passionate about the role that you want.

– When will I get promoted / How soon do you promote employees?

Again, you haven’t proven yourself yet to the employer and you don’t even know if you have gotten the job. Also when you get promoted your salary will increase so it will make the interviewer question whether you’re even interested in working here or are you just wanting money.

– How much time do I get off?

Asking how much time you get off before you’ve even been offered the job will appear rude and may instantly put the interviewer off employing you. You should wait until you have been told that you have the job before you start asking questions about your time off.

– What does the company do?

If you don’t even know what the company does, you should not be at the interview. If you go into that interview room and ask “what does the company do” there is no chance that you are going to be offered the job. Employers always expect people to do their research on their company before coming to the interview.

– I didn’t like my last boss

Already complaining about your past employers may put off the employer that you are going to. This may make the interviewer question if you bad mouth them (the manager) if they employ you and may question whether you were difficult to manage in your past job.

– Sorry I’m late

It goes without saying, punctuality is key. Turning up late to an interview will make the employer believe that you may turn up to work late each day which will most likely result in the employer offering the job to someone else.

– I’ll just take this call

Your phone should always be turned off or put on silent before you get to an interview. The interviewer may think that you are being rude and more interested in what your friends say rather than what the employer is telling you. Which will instantly send alarm bells in the interviewers head.

– I don’t have any questions for you

You should always have questions prepared to ask the interviewer. By doing this it shows that you want to know more about the company and that you are really interested in getting this job. By not asking questions, this may make the interviewer think that you aren’t really interested in the company and what they offer. 

– I just want something temporary

Saying that you want something temporary to the interviewer will instantly put them off employing you as they will think that you’re not going to really take the job seriously and are going to leave at any chance that another opportunity comes along.

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6 Daily Habits To Boost Productivity From Home

6 Daily Habits To Boost Productivity From Home

19th November 2020

Working from home is now the new normal and with Zoom calls it can feel like you’re back in the office, but it’s possible that we’re still not doing it right.

1. Plan your day

It sounds basic and it’s natural to go completely off course when another task comes up but giving each day a rough plan will improve your motivation (especially if it’s a list and you have a highlighter handy) and organise your thoughts. Make this the last thing you do the night before so you can begin the next day with a clear mind of what you’re going to do and when.

2. Set and stick to your goals

Distractions are inevitable in any workspace and when you’re working from home, they’re often multiplied but they needn’t interfere completely. Setting yourself goals, both short-term and mid-term, will give you something to work towards whether that be having a project completed by a certain time or getting on top of debt, you’re certain to feel more driven. It’s also important to revisit these regularly, writing them down and never seeing them again is often less effective and can have the opposite effect when you find them and see goals you set that you never stuck to. 

3. Have a dedicated workspace

Not always possible but if you can find one place where your work belongs instead of letting it drift into every room and all your hobbies then I’d highly recommend it. This dedicated workspace also means there’s no need to pack up at the end of the day and it can be left as you need it for the next day but also for the sake of your sanity it means you can close the door on it to separate it from your day to day life.

4. Clear your inbox

A 10 minute task but extremely worthwhile, clearing your inbox throughout the day can be that small break you need to feel a lot more in control and organised before there’s an overwhelming flood of emails you need to go through. Not only that, but also this small task will ensure emails don’t get missed.

5. Track your time

Tracking your time is something that, when you keep on top of it, it pays off in the end as you’ll be able to see where your time is really going, how long you’re spending on tasks and allowing you to question how efficient your work is when you spend 2 hours straight on one thing. Simply jotting down the time when you start and end any activity then revisiting this at the end of the day (just before you plan your next day, of course) enables you to analyse how successful your day has been.

6. Take breaks

Saving the most important for last, it’s easy when you’re working from home to start a little later but more than make up for it by not switching the computer off till 8pm. Taking small but regular breaks throughout your day will stop the stress from building up whilst improving the work you’re doing when you’re back at your desk.

Adopting even just one or two of these can make a big difference and change your usual workday to a much more productive one.

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Which is better: Apprenticeship or College?

Which is better: Apprenticeship or College?

Most of you will be wondering if going to College or working as an Apprentice is the better option, as someone who’s done College and currently working as an Apprentice, let me weigh my opinion in. When I attended College, I made quite a few friends in my time of the course and had some great times, although the course itself became less and less enjoyable over time. However, in my first few weeks of my Apprenticeship, there may be less people, but I am enjoying it way more.

This Apprenticeship has been way more for me than the College course was, I feel it’s the right kind of challenging, and allows me to be more creative, designing the infographics for twitter, the web banner and all. Overall, I don’t regret taking the College course, as I wouldn’t have met some of my closest friends, but I prefer the Apprenticeship over the College by miles, if I had known, I would’ve picked Apprenticeship first. 

Everyone has their own experiences and preferences, hopefully this may help your decision, but after all, it’ll be different for everyone.

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Why I Chose An Apprenticeship instead of Sixth Form

Why I Chose An Apprenticeship instead of Sixth Form

Here’s why I chose to do an apprenticeship rather than stay in sixth form. I’m writing this blog to try and help you decide what you want to do and whether sixth form or college really is for you.

1. Gaining experience that you wouldn’t get in school

Gaining experience at a young age will always come in handy for once you are older. The experiences that you get from an apprenticeship are so different to what you would get if you were still in sixth form or college. For starters you gain the experience of what it is like to work in a workplace environment from a young age. Secondly you learn a whole new range of skills from learning about different types of software to coding, everyday you learn something new. 

2. Earning money but still learning

Imagine getting paid and learning at the same time. Because this is the reality of taking an apprenticeship. Earning an income and learning at the same time is everyone’s ideal situation. Choosing to do an apprenticeship from a young age lets you gain money and in ways teaches you how to be responsible with how you spend your money not only for now but for your future. Whereas if you were in sixth form or college, you don’t earn an income unless you get a part time job, but a part-time job and education on top of that, that would be way too much pressure for one person to handle.

3. Opportunity to stay on after the apprenticeship ends

Having the opportunity to stay on at the company after your apprenticeship ends is a huge opportunity. Obviously this is not the case every time but with the experience that you gain during your time completing an apprenticeship you will have an advantage over those who stayed in school as you will already have experience working in a workplace environment and also have qualifications to back you up. Whereas people who stayed in school may have barely any qualifications and they will have no experience of a workplace environment which sets you above the rest.

4. Sixth form is not really beneficial if you’re not going to uni

If you’re not planning on going to uni then sixth form or college is really not for you, sixth form and college is typically for people that want to go to uni so they get the grades to do so. For me personally, I always knew that I didn’t want to go to university so staying on in sixth form wasn’t really beneficial to me when I could be getting qualifications and earning money elsewhere.

5. Securing your future

Choosing to stay in sixth form or college really does not secure your future in any way, shape or form. There is no guaranteed spot in the university that you want to go to, there is no guarantee that you pass all your exams and there is no guarantee of getting a job. Because of this you could end up settling for any job or university that you really didn’t want to get into but because that is your only option, you have to. Choosing an apprenticeship you already have an idea of what you want to do in the future and the opportunity to stay on after your apprenticeship ends which helps secure your future and give you an insight of what you want to do.

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Apprenticeships VS University

Apprenticeship VS University

Apprenticeship or university? It’s a life-changing decision and nobody else can make it for us, no matter how hard career advisors, teachers or family members encourage us but here’s a few reasons to consider that could make it simpler.

1. You are earning a wage, gaining life experience and qualifications

Starting with an obvious one, the advantages of earning a wage whilst you learn are clear as opposed to gathering a debt you might never pay off. At the beginning of the apprenticeship you could be earning National Minimum wage which is already better than owing money, but the majority of the time your wage will increase. Gaining life experience as well as qualifications was already an advantage before Coronavirus hit but it just became even better when you consider the alternative is trying to gain qualifications over Zoom with no understanding of what is going on. If you think of the basis of an apprenticeship, it’s to earn while you learn; you’re gaining qualifications in a workplace environment however that’s not all. Throughout your apprenticeship, you’ll also be gaining life experiences which you can apply to many life situations such as problem solving and communication.

2. Next job? Sorted. 

For those who want to get straight into a job instead of continuing education, an apprenticeship is the obvious choice but it’s practical too. When you’ve finished your 5 (or more) years in university and you’ve got that qualification you worked hard for, then what? There’s no certainty at all of a job after these studies whereas after an apprenticeship, the majority of employers take on their apprentices in a full-time position. Of course, this isn’t always the case, however those who finish their apprenticeship without a secured position of employment aren’t back to square one – they’ve got qualifications AND workplace experience to help them find that next job.

3. Independence

You might assume that the thought of independence would have to be attached to university but that’s not always the case. We’ve all considered it at some point though, the independence from parents, a chance to live on our own in another city or even another country and the glamorous decision of Pot Noodle or baked beans for tea. However, when you really think about it, you can get all this independence and more from an apprenticeship, specifically independence of finances – earning instead of spending – and learning saving skills which will be essential in later life. Whereas in university, there’s the undeniable fact that you’re reliant on loans and constantly building up a debt that will eventually be taken from your future salary. There’s also the independence you can only learn from an apprenticeship which is making decisions (sometimes mistakes, as we all do) and accepting responsibility for these. These life skills will then become invaluable and will better equip you for your future.

4. You’re making a difference already

It seems crazy that people as young as 17 are being asked to make a decision which will change the rest of their life, as if they know exactly what they want to do next and they’re confident they aren’t going to change their minds. Sounds unlikely. 

Whichever way you go, there’s a pressure on that decision but it needn’t be so monumental. When considering an apprenticeship, there’s such a variety nowadays that there’s always something which will appeal to you and is suited to your skills / personality and it doesn’t even have to be the career you stick with until you start collecting your pension. In fact, you could gain qualifications and workplace experience in Customer Service then go on to something completely different like Accounting or Teaching. None of this time is wasted of course as you’re earning, gaining qualifications and life skills as opposed to gaining a degree in a subject you’re never going to use again and needing to start job-hunting 5 years later. Something to consider as well, in an apprenticeship – in whatever industry you choose – you’re contributing to their company as well as building on your CV and own experience. So you’re making a difference already for yourself but also for whatever company you end up working for. After all, you’re employed for your skills and abilities and to better their company as opposed to university where the main goal is hitting pressurising deadlines and passing exams.

5. You’re prepared for your future

Choosing an apprenticeship instead of university gives you that independence you wanted, that wage you needed and secures that next job – all of which won’t happen at university. On top of all this, you’re prepared for your future as you’ll gain an understanding of a workplace environment while university-goers are continuing the school environment and are likely to get a shock 5 years down the line. Part of understanding this new environment is forming workplace relationships, both with people in your age group and also your superiors – allowing you to accept figures of authority both for discipline as well as support. Lastly that late morning webinar or that super productive day where you get the next day’s work done too isn’t always the best structure for you and when completing an apprenticeship you become prepared for a 9-5 structure with the flexibility of holidays and days off.

You’ll have heard the “earn while you learn” selling line maybe once or twice by now, but there’s also many other reasons to consider an apprenticeship instead of heading for university. We know Pot Noodles and baked beans are tempting but think about it, find out more about the apprenticeship courses we offer here.

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Dan’s First Week as a Digital Marketing Apprentice

Dan’s First Week as a Digital Marketing Apprentice

With Graphic Design being my passion, I’ve always wanted to do something as creative as Digital Marketing, being an Apprentice was also an added bonus! It gave me the opportunity to learn new skills, hone in my existing skills, whilst learning about how a work environment would be like – all at once because, well, I’m working in a work environment. So far, me and my fellow apprentices have been redesigning the Oracle Website, and we have begun work on Oracle’s Twitter, and other social media, creating and posting content as well!

To get started, we looked at other training provider websites and social media accounts for inspiration and examples to use ourselves; to get a general feel for how other companies had designed and portrayed themselves – so we could see what works and what doesn’t for them, and apply it to ourselves and fix what doesn’t work too. Once we had that all figured out, we began planning and making concepts to use for our own website and twitter content, after three concepts for each, we settled and began actually making what we had planned. We remade the website a page at a time, improving the accessibility, consistency and general visual improvements, at the same time we improved the twitter logo and designed a banner, followed up by infographics to post on there as well. Once we had a design down, we just followed suit on the website and other items that needed to be made. 

For the infographics, we researched different statistics and facts, mainly focusing on the Learners and Apprentices Survey (2018) as a source, but we also used other places and the Government website. Having these sources would make the infographics even more reliable and hopefully people would pay more attention to them, with them being accurate. Researching what the other training providers were posting also helped in seeing what we should post and make, influencing our own content and helping to see what people were interested in. We also had a look at what hashtags were used in context of these accounts and what we should use, we settled on using #TheFutureIsYours as our own unique one, followed by #OTS for our company name and #Apprenticeship and #Traineeship to help twitter traffic see these posts, alternating between which the post was about.

Currently, we’re just adding the finishing touches to the website, and designing content to post on twitter, not to mention starting to spread out to more social media like Facebook and LinkedIn. Who knows what’s next in store for us, and I can’t wait to find out and see what I can design next!

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Lewis’ First Week as a Digital Marketing Apprentice

Lewis’ First Week as a Digital Marketing Apprentice

My first week here at Oracle Training Solutions as one of the new digital marketers is over and has gone by so fast. I am writing this blog to hopefully give you an insight into what my first week was like starting my digital marketing apprenticeship.

– Why I chose to do an apprenticeship

During my time at school the two subjects that I enjoyed and was most passionate about were Media and Business studies. These were the two subjects that I excelled in the most and achieved my highest grades. Because of this I instantly knew that I wanted a career that had aspects of these two subjects. Before I started my digital marketing apprenticeship I had just started sixth form in which I studied Media, Business and Psychology. In less than a month of starting sixth form I automatically knew that it wasn’t for me and I wanted to start my career there and then, this led me to make the decision to look for apprenticeships and see what was about! Once I started looking I came across an apprenticeship to be a digital marketer. After doing a little bit of research I applied through the gov.uk website and was told to come in for a face to face interview. Within hours of finishing the interview I was told that I had been offered the role of a digital marketer for Oracle Training Solutions. It’s fair to say that I was over the moon.

– The activities that I was doing during my first week

To start off the week, naturally I was really nervous to see the new apprentices and be settled into a new work environment but within minutes of meeting everyone I was at ease and everyone was lovely to me. After doing a safety talk and knowing our whereabouts in the building, our first activity was safeguarding, where we identified different types of abuse either in the workplace or at home. We also did prevent training in which we learnt all about radicalisation and people vulnerable to abuse. 

On the second day we met our tutor who enrolled us into our apprenticeship which started with completing paperwork and a short english and maths test. Later that day we revamped our company’s twitter page, then wrote notes of what we want to achieve in the next few months on our twitter and what needs adding to it. After tweaking our page, we also started to look at other companies’ websites analysing the positives and negatives of each page. After viewing other websites we then started to produce concepts for our own website with features that we liked from others. By the end of the day we had started to finish one of our concepts.

The next day we carried on making concepts for our website. We were also changing the features of our twitter page by adding a short description of our company in the bio and started to tweet and like a few posts! By the end of the day we had completed our second website design and managed to gain a few more twitter followers!

Thursday. On Thursday we started and finished our third website design. After finishing all three of our designs we gained feedback from our boss on each website concept. Then, after gaining feedback we then changed and redesigned each website in order for us to choose the most successful one and which one we thought was best to publish. Later that day we chose our favourite design but after hitting a roadblock we later found out that we were unable to publish the page through the website that we were using.

Finally, on Friday we had to start from scratch on our website designs using a new site that we were allowed to publish on. Although we had to start again we all knew the types of websites that we liked and we had an idea of what we wanted our new site to look like.

And just like that. My first week was over. 

– What I have enjoyed the most

Although getting the bus to and from work everyday is a nightmare, there is so much that I have enjoyed this week that it is impossible to choose one thing but I have definitely enjoyed getting to know everyone in the office and working with people that I have never met before. I also have really enjoyed getting to know so much more about designing and creating a website, this would have been something that I never would have done if I never left sixth form to get an apprenticeship!

– The skills that I have learnt so far

I feel like I have gained so many new skills in such a short period of time here at Oracle Training Solutions. For starters I am so much more knowledgeable about different types of software and how to use it. Also working in a team and brainstorming as a team is new to me and we have been doing that a lot this week talking about different website designs and how we want it to look. Furthermore I have also learnt that not everything works first time and patience is the key to learning.

– My advice to anyone thinking of getting an apprenticeship

The only piece of advice that I can give is, if you are currently in sixth form, college or whatever it may be and you are unhappy, look for an apprenticeship. Only choose an apprenticeship that you would find interesting and you know that you would really enjoy. Also if you are scared to make the jump to leave school or college, don’t be. Everyone has to leave school at some point in their life, so if you know that you don’t want to stay in school for another two years, why not make the jump and start your career now? 

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