It is an unfortunate truth that not every independent automotive service provider shop is in a position to take on an apprentice. When you find one that is, you will want to ensure that you successfully get them to take you on.
When speaking to the shop owner or hiring manager about the possibility of coming on as apprentice, recognize that this initial conversation is an important part of the process.
It may not seem like a formal interview, but it is. Accordingly, you should be prepared to answer some questions.
Why do you want to apply for the apprenticeship at this shop?
Talk about what you hope to get out of the apprenticeship, career, goals, and any other personal motivations that you might have for taking this career path. Is there something specific about the shop that led you to apply there?
What do you think you can contribute?
Many shops will be looking for someone who is willing to learn, has an aptitude for the kind of work you’ll be doing, and also someone who will fit into their culture. If you’ve been repairing cars since you were eight, by all means include that information. But even if you haven’t, it will be important for the shop that they know you’re willing to work hard, willing to learn, and willing to help out wherever you can, even if you don’t know where that is right now.
How are your time management skills?
Not all apprentices are new to the workforce, but many are unfamiliar with the demands of the workplace for punctuality and efficient and effective task handling. Owners will find it encouraging if they hear a recognition of the importance of getting to work on time or even a bit early, and understanding that it might not be a strictly defined end of day every day, especially in the beginning when it might take you much longer to do things than when you get more experience.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Talking about your strengths and weaknesses is always difficult. Try to avoid the hackneyed “I’m too much of a perfectionist” approach. Be honest about where you see your strengths and weaknesses. And if you have developed some methods of use to address some weaknesses, mention them.
What do you know about the workday of an apprentice?
You should have a clear understanding of what your role and responsibilities might be and how you’ll be valued within the shop as you are getting your start. Know that you will be doing some sweeping. And you’ll be doing some jobs that you might not see as being directly related to your learning journey. Certainly a shop owner or hiring manager would enjoy hearing that you understand that you’ll be doing some of the more menial jobs, but that you also expect to have your need to learn taken seriously.
Getting your start in the automotive trade will always have its unexpected elements, and every shop is different, but starting off on the right foot at a shop where you fit in, and where you have a mutual understanding of your role and expectations, is a great way to start.