Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly attractive option for businesses looking to build and develop their talent pipelines. But attracting, recruiting and retaining the best individuals to invest in as apprentices is no easy feat.

According to the Skills Funding Agency, there are 1,500 different apprenticeships on offer in more than 170 industries.

Our assessment solutions are designed to help you stand out from competitors in attracting millennial apprentices and selecting those with the potential to perform. Using contemporary and engaging recruitment methods which focus on candidate care, we can help you identify the best apprentices to join your business, whilst not alienating your rejected candidates. 

What challenges do you face?

  • Standing out from competitors, to attract top apprentices to your organisation. SMEs can often find this to be particularly difficult, but attracting the best apprentices can have a big impact on the bottom line and future talent pipelines.
  • Identifying individuals with potential, but no track record. Apprentices are a unique population in that, by their very nature they are unlikely to have any experience in the job you are asking them to do.
  • Efficiently and effectively screening out unsuitable applicants early, so you’re left with the best candidates to select in to your business at the later, more expensive stages.
  • Identifying candidates with the ability to combine work and study. Finding apprentices with both the required cognitive intelligence to learn and achieve the requisite qualification, as well as have the drive, staying power and organisational skills to complete their qualification alongside work, can be a real challenge.
  • Rejecting candidates but retaining customers. You’ll often be rejecting many young people who could be future customers or even future employees down the line, and rejecting them whilst maintaining a positive image of your organisation is critical.
  • Being a responsible employer, focused on developing talent. Rejecting young candidates can be tough, but providing them with feedback for development could improve their future employability.

How we can help

Attract and engage apprentices – let them know what it’s like to work for you

Apprentices are faced with a difficult challenge in deciding which company to apply to – after all, they’re unlikely to know very much about the organisation, the job and what’s it's really like to work for you. By providing insight into the roles, apprentices will gain a greater understanding of your organisation and be in a better position to make a decision as to whether the role is likely to be suitable for them.

Using Realistic Preview, we work with you to design a realistic job preview (RJP) to provide this vital insight for apprentices. Not only do RJPs help you to stand out as a modern and engaging employer due to their contemporary and fun format, they allow apprentices to understand what it’s really like to work for you. This allows apprentices to make an informed decision as to whether they are likely to fit with the organisation and role before they even start the recruitment process. This reduces the number of poor-fit applicants that apply, increases the number of good-fit applicants and provides a positive and engaging experience of the brand for all individuals.

Measure potential to be successful and reap the rewards

Apprentices are unlikely to have much work experience to demonstrate their ability to do the job. As a result, we need to be able to measure their potential – i.e. do they have the requisite ability and competence to be successful in a particular role? Your recruitment process needs to measure whether they will be able to learn quickly, interact with others effectively, work to deadlines and retain composure under pressure, plus numerous other factors that might be important to success in the role.

72% of businesses report improved productivity as a result of employing an apprentice (CIPD, 2014)

To measure abilities, values, and competencies that are required for the role, we design a process with the right mix of assessments to identify the potential of your apprentice applicants. We work with you to understand what’s important for the role and how we can fairly, accurately and objectively measure the factors you identify. This may include a mix of the following assessments, depending on job level: 

  • Ability tests: our Aspects Ability and Elements online adaptive ability tests use technology to its best advantage to create a short, challenging and user-friendly assessment experience. The adaptive nature of the tests enables us to really differentiate between high performing applicants, allowing you to make the best decisions. 
  • Situational judgement tests: Judgement is our next generation of situational judgement tests which provide a fast, robust and engaging way to screen high volumes of applicants. Our SJTs are designed to measure a variety of factors required to be successful in a particular role (or set of roles) within your organisation. They are widely accepted in the market as very robust and valid assessments due their close match to the hiring organisation’s culture and role requirements.
  • Personality/competency assessment: to help you identify applicants with the appropriate competencies to perform the job in the way you want, we recommend using our Aspects Styles competency-based questionnaire or our Dimensions online personality questionnaire.
  • Competency-based interviews: using our Aspects Styles and Dimensions assessments, you can generate a competency-based interview guide which includes a series of questions that can be used to elicit further evidence surrounding the key competencies for the role.

To help you select the right solution for different job levels, see our assessment matrix below:

AssessmentWhat is measuresFrontline, 'hands-on' rolesProfessional roles
Realistic Preview Values, cultural fit Yes  Yes
Judgement Competency, preferred behaviour, values, cultural fit Yes  Yes
Aspects Ability Verbal, numerical, checking ability Yes  No
Aspects Styles  Competency, preferred behaviour Yes  No
Elements Verbal, numerical, logical ability No  Yes
Dimensions Competency, preferred behaviour No  Yes

Identify candidates with the ability to combine work and study

Your apprentice recruitment population are unlikely to have completed the requisite qualifications that they need for the job, meaning that they will need to study for these qualifications alongside working for you. This can be a demanding task and will require both a level of cognitive intelligence to achieve the qualification, as well as the drive, staying power and organisational skills to manage these multiple, and sometimes competing, demands between education and work.

Finding individuals with this combination of abilities and competencies can be a real challenge, on top of looking for someone who can actually do the job. And getting it wrong means that the apprentices who you have invested in may find it all too much and leave, costing you considerable time and money.

We help you measure both the levels of cognitive intelligence of your candidates and the factors important for committing to and successfully achieving vocational qualifications alongside work. Our ability assessments and personality questionnaires can help you identify apprentices who will be able to manage these heavy demands and stay the course.

Put candidates at the centre

You’re going to be rejecting more applicants than you’ll be hiring. These individuals have the potential to be lifetime users of your products or services, so isolating them and turning them off your brand at such a young age could be significant to your bottom line. What’s more, if they are just starting out on their career and are interested in your industry, they may become great applicants for future roles, even if they aren’t quite right for your current apprenticeships. It’s therefore important to make sure that even if you reject candidates, they still think positively of your customer and employer brand, so make sure you treat candidates well and don’t shoot yourself in the foot.

Running an apprentice scheme may help improve your brand image - according to the CIPD, 81% of consumers favour using a company which takes on apprentices.

The candidate experience is at the centre of everything we do and we work with clients to help them incorporate this perspective into the recruitment of their apprentices:

  • Firstly, we create engaging assessment processes often using high validity images, content or even multi-media graphics within our assessments.
  • We understand that the process can be new and cause anxiety to apprentices, so we provide a dedicated website ( for candidates to gain a better understanding of the assessments they are being asked to complete, why they’ve been asked to complete them and even practice these assessments. In doing so, candidates are often more accepting of the assessment process as they can understand the reasons for using assessments. Having practiced, they are more likely to perform at their best in the actual assessments as nerves and anxieties about the assessments are often alleviated.
  • Finally, we offer complimentary candidate reports to all individuals who complete our assessments. This means that, if you choose to, your candidates can automatically receive some high level feedback from the assessments highlighting where they were strong and where they might like to develop. In doing so, you are acknowledging the time that candidates have given to completing the assessments and are providing them with something in return. The feedback may provide candidates with an indication on where they might need to improve, which in turn may improve their employability.

Overall, by putting candidate care at the centre of your process, you can not only hire the best apprentices, you can also create a positive perception of your organisation for those who are not successful.

Related assessments and services


An online personality questionnaire for assessing key behavioural attributes in relation to work, for use across all sectors, functions and organisational levels


A suite of online adaptive ability tests that measure the ability of your people, for use across all sectors and functions for supervisory, graduate, managerial and professional level jobs


A portfolio of assessments to measure the fundamental skills and abilities required for frontline sales, service and support roles in industries such as retail, hospitality and call centres


Our situational judgement tests (SJTs) combine scientific rigour and state-of-the art technology to assess competencies in a series of real-life scenarios

Realistic Preview

We can work with you to design a realistic job preview, giving a behind-the-scenes look at what it's like to work at your company

Customised assessment

Our assessments are renowned for their flexibility, accessibility and contemporary look and feel – customisation allows us to truly make them your own