7 things The Apprentice taught us about job interviews

Our writer Jade casts an eye over yesterday’s show and looks at what lessons can be learnt.

The Apprentice

On Wednesday the Apprentice candidates were whittled down to just two, who’ll now battle it out in Sunday’s final. After a series of madcap entrepreneurial challenges, yesterday’s show was all about the interviews - arguably the trickiest part of the process where plenty of candidates have come unstuck.

We all have to face curveball questions and hellish interviewers at some point in our professional life, so what lessons can we learn from how The Apprentice hopefuls performed?

1) Don’t tell a lie. Even if it seems like a teeny tiny one…

Nobody wants to be labelled ‘deceitful’ during an interview, but that’s exactly what Mark Wright was called by previous winner Ricky Martin.

Mark had implied he’d held a ‘sales manager’ position for longer than he actually had, while fellow contestant Daniel Lassman was caught out for pretending he’d won an award.

These slip-ups impart some important wisdom: slightly stretching the truth could leave you with egg on your face. Best to be honest, and keep your integrity intact.

2) Admit when you got it wrong

When Mike Soutar challenged Daniel during his interview, he responded with complaints about how he hadn’t been given the opportunity to sell hot tubs in a previous challenge.

And who could forget Michael Sophocles in series 4, who claimed to have dazzled in moments of brilliance, but was best-remembered for trying to sell luxury cars at Portobello Market?

Sometimes, it’s just best to admit that you’ve made wrong decisions in the past, but describe what you’ve learnt from them, and how you’d do things differently now.

3) Get down with the details

Solomon was in trouble from the offset with this one, after nervously admitting in the car that he’d ‘sort of’ got the nitty gritty stuff in his mind.

Daniel came unstuck on the details too, and was told by Clive that it was ‘embarrassing’ that he didn’t know the numbers.

Whatever type of role you’re going for, make sure that you have the important figures and the most salient points at your fingertips.

4) Remember that modesty goes a long way

Each year, some of the most toe-curlingly embarrassing Apprentice moments come from the jaw-dropping arrogance of the candidates.

Ricky Martin might have been sitting on the ‘interviewer’ side of the desk this series, but as a candidate he once proclaimed that he was “the reflection of perfection”.

Stuart Baggs in series six came up with the classic line: “Everything I touch turns to sold!”.

These colourful characters remind us that while you should highlight your credentials, it’s best to stop short of blowing your own trumpet.

5) A sense of humour helps, but it can’t beat real experience

One of the best moments of Wednesday’s interviews was Roisin telling Claudine “I’ve eaten food” when Claudine asked her about her experience in the ready meal food market.

Roisin was one of the frontrunners going into the interviews, but when her lack of ready meal experience became clear, she resorted to a deadpan one-liner. It didn’t do the trick, and she failed to make the final.

6) If it goes pear shaped, try not to cry

Bianca made it through the interview stage to the final, but she shed plenty of tears along the way. Both Claudine and Ricky reduced the wannabe hosiery entrepreneur to tears with their spikey comments.

Even if things get tough in the interview room, try to keep it together. If the interview becomes too much, take a few moments to get your head together before you carry on.

7) If the answer’s ‘no’, don’t leave your dignity at the door

Throughout the years of The Apprentice we’ve watched candidates walk out of the boardroom with varying degrees of grace and delicacy, with some taking the chance for a final barbed comment or piece of self-defence.

On Wednesday, Roisin thanked Alan for the wonderful experience, although her teeth were firmly gritted.

If things have gone badly, respond with grace and keep good relations with the company intact.