Applying for an apprenticeship: some essential tips


Sophie Wills graduated from North Lake in 2017 and gained an apprenticeship with Rio Tinto. She is pictured with Principal Mary Margetts.

The Rio Tinto information session held at North Lake was very successful and those students keen to pursue one of these opportunities will need to start preparing their applications.  Application will be open the last week of July (potentially 30 July) and will only be open for 10 days. Students will need to monitor Rio Tinto’s careers website to ensure they do not miss the advertisement.

Applicants for fly-in fly-out (FIFO) apprenticeship…

• Must be 18-years-of-age or older.

• Must have the right to work in Australia.

• Must have accommodation in one of the following FIFO commute locations for the four-year duration of the apprenticeship: Perth, Carnarvon , Albany, Derby, Broome, Exmouth, Busselton or Geraldton.

• Must hold a current C class manual driver’s licence with a minimum of red “P” plates.

• Must have successfully completed year 12 with a minimum of C grades in English and maths, or equivalent.

Here is some information vital to anyone thinking of applying for an apprenticeship or, in fact, any other job…

Apprenticeships are highly competitive and you need to put your best self forward to be successful.

In large companies like Rio Tinto there may be several steps involved in applying for an apprenticeship.

These steps may include:

• Completing an aptitude test

• Supplying a covering letter and resume

• Participating in group activities’

• Attending an interview

• Completing a medical

Preparing to apply for apprenticeship

Research the employer. 

Research the company, scour their website, read any news stories about them and get clued up on their industry. Where does the company operate and what do they produce. Try to get a real sense of their company culture and their values 

Practice online aptitude tests

There are numerous online aptitude tests available on line that you can practice.

• Talk to your math/trade teachers about the fundamentals of levers, pulleys and gears 

• Remember to time the tests to ensure you are familiar with the process. 

Suggested Sites:  for the Readiness Assessment, however they will be required to pay $20 to create a login and get access to the tests.


• Free Practice Aptitude Tests | Free Aptitude Test Examples

• Aptitude Practice Tests | Pass The Test First Time.

• Free Mechanical Test – Instructions – Institute of Psychometric Coaching

• Free Online Mechanical Aptitude Test Sample Questions – Job Test Prep

Write a winning covering letter and resume

• Ensure your resume is up to date including any work experience or work practice you have undertaken.

• Your covering letter needs to stand out, possible things to include:

• Brief comment that shows you have an understanding of the company you are applying to.

• Statement on safety awareness.

• Statement about what you can bring to the company ie – team leader as can be demonstrated through sporting achievements.

• Any additional information that you believe will highlight your strengths.

Practice interviews. 

Employers will be looking for is good communication skills. Staging practice interviews with a teacher, parent or friend is a great way to practice answering interview questions and it will get you used to thinking on your feet.  

Participate in group activities

Practice speaking up in group situations. Many apprenticeship employers use group interviews to sift out the strong candidates. Try toget more involved in classroom discussions or having formal debates and discussions with your friends is a great way to prepare. Remember not to dominate and to listen to others input into discussion.

Attending an interview

Plan your day

When you know where the interview will be held, work out how long it’ll take you to get to the interview and give yourself plenty of time to get there. You should aim to arrive about ten minutes before the start of the interview.

Don’t be late. Make sure you take the contact details of the interviewer with you, including their telephone number, email and the address of the company, so you can get in touch if you are unexpectedly held up.

Plan out your interview attire 

There’s nothing worse than waking up on interview day and going into a full blown panic about what to wear, so make sure you’ve already planned out your interview attire for the apprenticeship interview. Gauge what to wear based on the company, if in doubt, opt for smart casual. Make sure your clothes are clean and you look wholesome and presentable.

Talk confidently

Talk about your work/school trade knowledge and experience. Why has this has made you passionate about pursuing that particular trade. Discuss the importance of safety practices in the work place – what are:

• Toolbox talks

• Take 5s 

• JSAs

Show positive body language

Your body should tell anyone who might be watching that you’re confident and calm. While waiting for the interview to begin don’t hunch your shoulders or tuck your chin into your chest. Sit with your back straight. Use a firm handshake, sit up straight and make eye contact eye with the person or person conducting the interview. Don’t forget to smile!

Take a portfolio

Take any additional documents such as training statements, certificates or awards that you feel can promote who you are an individual. Ensure they are organised and presented professionally.

Have questions ready

Often at the end of interviews, interviewers like to say “Do you have any questions?” Unfortunately, it’s not really a case of asking a question? if you want to; they’re actually saying: “Ask us a question now”.  Always a good idea to prepare some questions in advance. Questions about the company are a good idea.  

Thanks to Jane Devenyns from the South Metro Education Office for this information.