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How to hear the words ‘You’re Hired’

Why The Apprentice finalists should have used a recruitment consultant’s expertise!

It’s billed as the ‘job interview from hell’ and as ten million viewers tuned in to the final of The Apprentice to see the last four candidates grilled by Lord Sugar’s aids, how many people were shocked by their lack of preparation?

This year’s Apprentice may have been about becoming Alan Sugar’s business partner rather than his employee, but it was still the tried and tested interview format which sealed the winner’s fate.

Lydia Seymour, managing consultant at East Anglia’s Pure Resourcing Solutions, watched with interest as the candidates were put under intense interview pressure to try and land the coveted position.  And she says there was definite room for improvement for all four.

“They all failed the basic interview rules of being prepared and doing your research,” said Lydia. “They seemed genuinely taken aback at some of the questions asked.

“Our candidates should never be in a position where they would attend an interview so under-prepared. We give candidates advice and support to make sure they are prepared and briefed in advance, a level of expertise all four finalists could have benefited from to manage some of the challenges they faced. With proper preparation, they would have known their business plans inside out.

“Although our candidates don’t usually have to present business ideas, many employers expect interviewees to prepare presentations. A recruitment consultant who is keen to add value to the process would always review these to make sure there were no glaring errors."

“Recruitment consultants can also offer interview preparation, providing constructive feedback ahead of the all important interview. A practice run could have helped Jim avoid the clichés! It’s important in any interview to be genuine and yourself. Jim was given an opportunity to tell Apprentice veteran Margaret Mountford exactly what he stands for and who he is and responded ‘I’m exactly what it says on the tin’! An employer wants to find out what you’d be like to work with; they are buying into you and your skills. It’s vital to show your real personality and not oversell.

“It’s also important not to give a potential employer unrealistic expectations about what you can offer, Susan’s enthusiasm was engaging and predicting a million pound profit in her first year was just naivety but it’s likely that she’ll succeed in the future with the right support.

So did the right man win Lord Sugar and the interview panel over?

“Tom was a credible winner,” said Lydia. “He had the strongest ideas and it’s refreshing for the show to prove that being nice isn’t a weakness in business. Integrity is so important and Tom embodied this. 

“However, if Helen had received the right guidance before facing the panel and Lord Sugar, she may have had the confidence to choose the right business plan. And if she had spent more time researching the market for her ‘concierge’ service she could have opted for her back-up bakery idea sooner, which was far more viable. Panicking half-way through and changing her mind showed she didn’t have belief in her original idea. Whilst few prospective employers would question her ability and work ethic this indecisiveness is not something a business partner wants to see and led to her falling at the final hurdle.

“You may not be competing on national TV for the chance to go into business with one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs,” concluded Lydia. “But if you’re looking to secure the right job for you then seeking the expertise of a good recruitment consultant could mean you hear those words ‘Your Hired’.