Interviewing for a Tech Job: 5 Questions

Interviewing for a Tech Job: 5 Questions

Whether you’re considering an apprenticeship or a traditional job in the tech field, you can expect a series of interviews just as you would with any other position. You should of course be prepared for traditional interview questions like:

Tell me about a time when something didn’t go as you had hoped, and how you responded.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

How would your co-workers describe you?

With a tech role, however, you should also be prepared for more specific questions related not only to technology but the intersection of technology and soft skills, including your ability to communicate. Answers will vary depending upon your level of experience, but you should be prepared to address questions similar to these:

What do you do to stay current and keep your tech skills up to date?

Technology changes constantly. Your potential employer wants to know that you have the habit of putting in the effort to stay on top of those changes.

Which resources do you consult to help you do your work?

This is a similar question in that the interviewer wants to know that you do more than just show up and do the work in front of you. Your answer here demonstrates that you’re engaged with the broader tech world outside of your job. You know where to go to solve for the challenging questions.

Which technology products or services are your favorites, or least favorites, and why?

With this question, the interviewer is probably less interested in the specific products or services and more interested in the “why.” For him or her this is a glimpse at what makes you tick as a tech professional. This is not the time to go off on a rant, but if there are products or services that you feel come up short, be prepared to explain why you think so – and what you would do about it if you were in charge.

Let’s pretend for a moment that I work in another department and know nothing at all about tech. How would you explain so I can understand it?

This is a vital question that begins to uncover the way you’ll interact with others. In many roles, the very best technical skills are less valuable if you can’t communicate effectively with other team members. Your ability to translate the complex into layperson’s terms demonstrates an important component of those soft skills mentioned above.

Suppose we’re having this discussion two (or three, or five) years from now. How do you think technology will have changed?

Just as any interviewer will want your vision of where you see yourself in the future, they’ll be interested to see how much thought you’ve given to where technology might be going. There are no wrong answers here because no one knows for certain, but be ready to demonstrate that you’ve given the bigger picture some thought.

Even if you’re coming into a tech apprenticeship with no related experience, you can do the background work to answer these questions. With some research, you can tell an interviewer what you will do to stay current, which resources you think will be most valuable, and so forth. The fact that you’ve given these things some careful thought will set you apart from many other candidates.

5 Tech Hiring Challenges, and How Apprenticeships Can Help

5 Tech Hiring Challenges, and How Apprenticeships Can Help

While the pandemic had a significant impact on employment, one longer-term trend remains unchanged: Companies continue to have major challenges with recruiting personnel to fill their empty seats in tech roles. There are many reasons why this is so, but here’s a look at five major issues … and how apprenticeships help organizations address them.

Lack of Qualified Personnel

Traditional recruitment methods produce traditional results, leaving a sense that the same pool of candidates is perpetually recycled with everyone just moving to a new seat every so often. Breaking this cycle requires fishing in some different ponds, and that’s where apprenticeships really shine.

Apprentices largely come from nontraditional sources, including people who’ve chosen not to pursue the expensive four-year college path and those returning to the workforce after military service or raising a family. And they’re diverse in more than just background, with women and minorities represented at well above industry averages.

Recruiting Costs

If you’ve hired personnel through recruiters, you’re familiar with the hefty price tag (20 percent of base pay, maybe more). And that might be fine if it led to long-term employees, but in the tech sector changing jobs frequently is almost a badge of honor.

The apprenticeship model is completely different: Candidates are paid a reduced salary while they learn on the job. And they’re trained not only on the IT skills and certifications the work requires, but on the soft skills that make them great employees. Not only do the numbers make more sense, the apprenticeship model leads to…

Engagement and Loyalty

As noted above, keeping your tech roles filled can feel like an unending game of musical chairs as candidates jump to the next opportunity that offers a few more dollars, and the next, and the next.

Our employers enjoy a 95% long-term retention rate after program completion. Why? Apprentices are reared in their specific company culture and are grateful to – and loyal to – the organizations that nurture their careers and give them the early opportunity to learn and grow.

Alignment with Company Goals

One major pitfall with candidates from traditional recruiters is that your new hire comes with old habits, not all of them good. Getting someone who’s had significant experience elsewhere to fit into your own organizational culture can be a big challenge.

Apprentices are immediately put on a track not only to check off the technical certifications your position requires, but to do their jobs your way. Weekly check-ins with both a Franklin Success Coach and an internal manager assure that tasks are not just completed but are done to your specifications.

Adjusting to Remote Work

As if successful recruiting weren’t already enough of a challenge, last year’s sudden shift to remote work added a new degree of difficulty. Recruiting, onboarding and training are much harder when they can’t be done in person.

We’ve been very successful in doing all those things remotely since long before it was a necessity. We’ve been able to supply organizations with great candidates who become great apprentices and employees by virtual means because our model was designed to do just that.

Apprenticeships in America: Catching Up

Apprenticeships in America: Catching Up

It’s no secret that the United States has lagged behind Europe – and specifically the United Kingdom – in the adoption of apprenticeships. Why is that, and are we closing the gap?

A few statistics for perspective: As recently as 2014, an article in The Atlantic noted that only about five percent of young people in the U.S. are pursuing apprenticeships versus about 60 percent in Germany. And while a Wikipedia entry predicted a doubling of U.S. apprenticeship numbers from 375,000 to 750,000 between 2014 and 2019, that number still pales in comparison to more than 2 million apprenticeships launched since 2015 in the UK, with its much smaller population.

Why Does the U.S. Lag Behind?

While those statistics include all apprenticeships, not just tech-oriented fields, the story is similar across the board. Why?

First is a simple lack of awareness. We’re working hard to spread the gospel of the apprenticeship model, which we feel is a win-win for employer and candidate alike. And we’re getting there, as top-tier organizations like IBM join us to throw their weight behind tech apprenticeships.

Still, there’s a lingering stigma among young people in America around not pursuing a four-year college degree. This has its roots in the post-World War II years, when many parents who had not had the opportunity to attend college considered it the ultimate badge of success to see their children earn diplomas.

The Future of U.S. Apprenticeships

That stigma, though, seems to be fading as reality sets in. Education costs have increased geometrically, far outpacing the cost of living. Worse, that college diploma is no longer a guarantee of high-paying employment that will pay off a potential mountain of debt. And many prospective college students are recognizing yet another financial reality: those four years spent incurring debt are four years when they could have been earning a salary instead, a double financial whammy.

A model that pays the student to learn from the first day and accomplishes this within regular working hours so the candle doesn’t need to burn at both ends, would seem to fill the bill. And that’s how an apprenticeship works. For employers, apprenticeships are an alternative to traditional (and expensive) recruiting methods to fill in-demand tech roles. And as an added benefit, the pool of apprenticeship candidates tends to be much more diverse in age, background and ethnicity than candidates reached via traditional means.

With all that working in favor of apprenticeships, we think the gap will close quickly, and the United States won’t be playing catch-up for too much longer.

Fear of Hiring: What’s Holding You Back?

Fear of Hiring: What’s Holding You Back?

Does your organization have a fear of hiring? With all the curveballs thrown at us in this year of the pandemic, it’s no surprise that many organizations have been hesitant to step up and fully address their personnel needs. If you’re a hiring manager, diversity officer, CTO or CEO, chances are good that right now something is holding you back from filling those empty seats.

Let’s take a look at the main drivers of fear in the current hiring environment and how an apprenticeship program can answer the challenges:

Hiring remotely: There is no doubt that hiring is more difficult in a remote environment. But we’ve been vetting, interviewing and hiring apprentices remotely since long before the pandemic, and we have a substantial track record of effective, high-percentage hires. More than 90% of new hires complete their apprenticeship program.

Fear of mistakes: Hiring mistakes are expensive, especially if you go the traditional recruiter route. Beyond the success rate noted above, apprentices work at a discounted wage rate while they learn during their first year with you. In short, the odds are far better and the risks are far lower.

Onboarding: In addition to the challenges of hiring remotely, many managers find themselves without adequate time to train new hires. Again, we have you covered. Each apprentice has weekly check-ins with a Personal Success Coach covering not only their technical knowledge but the soft skills that make a great employee. You can rest assured knowing they’re being trained to do things your way, and that nothing will slip through the cracks. And you can track each apprentice’s progress via your own online dashboard.

Talent pool: It’s hard to hit your hiring and diversity targets when you keep fishing for talent in the same pond. An apprenticeship program gives you access to a pool of talent not found via traditional sources: some have decided to forgo the expensive four-year degree, and others are returning to the workforce after military service or raising a family. It’s a much more diverse group of candidates as well, with women represented at a rate one-third higher than industry averages.

So, if fear of any or all of these items has been holding you back from operating at full efficiency, enough.  It’s time to try a different path.

See how an apprenticeship program can answer your hiring challenges. Contact Franklin Apprenticeships.

Top Reads for the New Year

Top Reads for the New Year

Making a 2020 Resolution Towards Change –

Happy 2020 from Franklin Apprenticeships! As we embark on yet another year into the 4th Industrial Revolution, we think it is time for some New Year resolutions – resolutions that can continue to bring change to how we view education and opportunity for America’s workforce.

With that, Franklin Apprenticeships would like to keep the change momentum top of mind by sharing a list of some top reads to start off the New Year!

America’s Moment Creating Opportunity in the Connected Age A Book by Rework America — The Markel Economic Future Initiative

Digital transformation: Are you ready for the digital age?

Amid the biggest economic transformation in a century, the challenge of our time is to make sure that all Americans benefit from the wave of digital revolutions around the world that have permeated and upended modern life. Yet today’s economic arguments seem stuck. We need a new vision of a hopeful future and a new action agenda.

We have been here before.  A hundred years ago, America experienced the greatest economic transformation and technological revolution in its history.  The transformation of the past 20 years— as the world has moved through the information era into the digital age— has turned our life and work upside down once again.  It is a time of tremendous change but also of tremendous possibility.

Set against the history of how Americans succeeded once before in remaking their country, America’s Moment is about the future. It describes how the same forces of change—technology and a networked world—can become tools that can open opportunity to everyone.

A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College by Ryan Craig and Allen Blue

Pop quiz: The cost of a college education continues to rise, as the value continues to drop.  Isn’t it time for alternative solutions?

So many things are getting faster and cheaper.  Movies stream into your living room without a ticket or concession-stand costs.  The world’s libraries are at your fingertips instantly and for free. 

So why is a college education the only thing that seems immune to change?  Colleges and universities operate much as they did 40 years ago, with one major exception: tuition expenses have risen dramatically.  What’s more, earning a degree takes longer than ever before, with the average time to graduate now over five years. 

As a result, graduates often struggle with enormous debt burdens.  Even worse, they often find that degrees did not prepare them to obtain and succeed at good jobs in growing sectors of the economy.  While many learners today would thrive with an efficient and affordable postsecondary education, the slow and pricey road to a bachelor’s degree is starkly the opposite.

In A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College, Ryan Craig documents the early days of a revolution that will transform—or make obsolete—many colleges and universities.  Alternative routes to great first jobs that do not involve a bachelor’s degree are sprouting up all over the place.  Bootcamps, income-share programs, apprenticeships, and staffing models are attractive alternatives to great jobs in numerous growing sectors of the economy: coding, healthcare, sales, digital marketing, finance and accounting, insurance, and data analytics. 

College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students by Jeffrey J. Selingo 

The debate continues: What is the value of a college degree?

The four-year college experience is as American as apple pie.  So is the belief that higher education offers a ticket to a better life.  But with student-loan debt surpassing the $1 trillion mark and unemployment of college graduates at historic highs, people are beginning to question that value.

In College (Un)bound, Jeffrey J. Selingo, editor at large of the Chronicle of Higher Education, argues that America’s higher education system is broken.  The great credential race has turned universities into big business and fostered an environment where middle-tier colleges can command elite university-level tuition while concealing staggeringly low graduation rates, churning out graduates with few of the skills needed for a rapidly evolving job market.

Beyond Tech The Rising Demand for IT Skills in Non-Tech Industries by Burning Glass Technologies and Oracle

Oracle and Burning Glass report: Are you aware that nearly 90% of tech jobs are outside the formal technology sector?

In 2018, there were 6,950,954 online IT job openings, accounting for 24% of all online job openings.  The vast majority of openings — 89% — were in non-tech industries… This trend of high levels of IT jobs outside of tech holds for many of the largest roles typically associated with the tech industry — such as software developers and network engineers — suggesting that there are opportunities for IT workers outside of the tech industry across a broad spectrum of IT occupations.

Why Tech Companies Should Offer Apprenticeships by The Consumer Technology Association (CTA)

The American Tech Skills Gap: How are leading companies leveraging apprenticeship as a solution?

The technology industry has become the engine of American growth, generating more than 1.9 million jobs between 2010 and 2018.  Today, the sector accounts for nearly 12% of U.S. GDP. 

Increasingly, all companies are tech companies — meaning that the future of the American workforce is a high-tech one.  But that success has also created a growing skills gap: In September 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that about 5.8 million Americans were unemployed even as 7 million jobs remained unfilled.  Many of these jobs require mid- to high-level skill sets.

These figures are indicative of a common problem: Companies, especially in the tech sector, struggle to grow as quickly as they could if workers’ skills matched those employers need.  The result is that businesses are leaving behind talented individuals who lack the skills to access high-quality, high paying jobs.

To meet the challenge, some of the most cutting edge companies in the country are turning to an old solution: apprenticeship. For centuries, apprenticeships have enabled employers to develop the skills they seek while giving individuals valuable, paid work experience.  In 2018, about 585,000 Americans participated in state and federal registered apprenticeships, a number that has grown every year since 2011. 

The CTA Apprenticeship Coalition is encouraging this trend by helping tech companies incorporate apprenticeships into their talent pipeline strategies.  This white paper will help employers understand why and how to get started.

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Are you ready to make additions to your New Year’s resolution? Are you seeking inspiration and education about the changing face of the American Workforce? 

Our mission is to unlock opportunities for job seekers, employers, state agencies, and educators — all through modern apprenticeship.

Together, we are

#ChangingtheAmericanWorkforce

#ConnectingtheAmericanWorkforce

#ChallengingtheStatusQuo

Contact us to learn more about our plans for 2020, and beyond.

Modernizing Apprenticeship Programs in the United States: The Top Four Issues Under Discussion Today [Blog Post]

Modernizing Apprenticeship Programs in the United States: The Top Four Issues Under Discussion Today [Blog Post]

Apprenticeships, once a system supervised by craft guilds and town governments, have a long history throughout the world as a means to employ young people under the guidance of master craftsmen.   Apprentices offered merchant shop owners an inexpensive form of labor in exchange for food, lodging, and formal training.

The allure of conventional apprenticeship programs remained most popular with the unions and military, especially in the construction and manufacturing industries. Over time, technical, formal, and vocational education changed the structure of apprenticeships, and bureaucratized the programs.

Today, the system is resurging around the globe – but at varying degrees of interest, and success. But, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, here in the U.S., apprenticeship programs remain relatively rare, with fewer than 450,000 registered apprenticeship programs in a civilian workforce of 160 million.

Why, then, at a time in which our country continues to struggle with growing educational debt, increasing community college drop-out rates, and the ongoing shortage of skilled labor, are we not racing to adopt the best practice of our U.K. neighbors across the pond?

According to Sarah Ayres Steinberg, a former policy analyst at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., “Apprenticeship programs in the U.K. are promoted as a cost-effective and viable alternative to university-based education. The U.K. apprenticeship initiative is a model that we in the United States should consider following.”

Susan Ladika’s article Apprenticeships: Can they help solve the skills gap? published by CQ Researcher last month, noted a number of issues that we currently struggle with as 21st Century Americans. Our businesses – heavily comprised of debt-burdened college graduates competing for top positions – lack middle-skilled workers in labor markets. While industries of the strongest mention are healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing, labor market experts say that nearly half of all U.S. job openings between 2010 and 2020 will be for middle-skilled jobs.

Outlined, below, are the top four issues under discussion today, in the United States.

  1. Funding: Through the Obama Administration’s American Apprenticeship initiative, program goals will increase the number of apprenticeships to 750,000 before the end of the decade. The initiative awarded $265 million in grants to public-private partnerships between employers, organized labor, educational institutions, and others. The question remains whether or not the subsidies are large enough to attract employers.
  1. Perception: American society equates a four year degree to career success and stability. Apprenticeship programs are mistakenly viewed as culturally inferior and occupationally limiting. Workers are unfamiliar with the range of occupations, educational requirements, and salaries associated with apprenticeships.
  1. Awareness: Businesses are not aware of the benefits apprenticeship programs can provide. The perception is that the time, money, and effort involved in adopting a program is a long-term investment that holds too many risks. The fact is, businesses need guidance figuring out where to start, what to expect, and how to manage the process to achieve a meaningful return on investment.
  1. Execution: Mentoring models that can help guide execution are scarce in the United States. To succeed, businesses require an operational and implementation plan, which includes realizing and growing interest from employers, raising awareness with relevant training providers, securing training providers and matching curriculum to employer needs, maximizing government funding, and engaging and recruiting apprentice candidates.

These issues – along with a wealth of academic resources – are discussed in detail in Susan Ladika’s CQ Researcher article. It offers many insights that are well worth the time to digest, and consider.

The recent US presidential election result shows that there is an urgent need to re-skill America with high quality, sustainable jobs. The foundation of these new opportunities will come from a renewed effort to invest in skilled apprenticeships that help US firms compete on a level playing field with the rest of the world. What can we do to help address the challenges, to learn from the experiences offered from countries further along the path, and to speed adoption in the U.S.?

At Franklin Apprenticeships, we are focused on building the infrastructure to support a successful apprenticeship ecosystem in the United States. We welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with you, first hand.