7 things The Apprentice has taught us about job interviews

Ah, at 9pm on BBC1 tonight it’s the episode of The Apprentice we’ve all been waiting for!

Yes, we’re at the dreaded interview stage, which’ll see Mark, Roisin, Soloman, Bianca and Dan endure a brutal grilling by Lord Sugar’s right hand men that’ll leave them whimpering in terror.

Considering the previous nine series’ abysmal interviews, here’s some tips we could all learn from their predecessors finding out exactly what not to do when they’re faced with the interview from hell.

1. The liar (almost) never gets hired

Lee McQueen (bottom right) with finalists Helene Speight, Claire Young and Alex Wotherspoon from Series 4 of The Apprentice
Lee McQueen (bottom right) with finalists Helene Speight, Claire Young and Alex Wotherspoon from Series 4 of The Apprentice (Joel Ryan/PA)

Don’t lie about your employment history, don’t lie about your achievements and certainly don’t lie about your education history. You will get caught out and it’ll leave you feeling a mixture of fear and pure shame.

Series 4 contestant Lee McQueen, thought he’d pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes, claiming he studied at Thames Valley university for two years, when in reality he only held out for four months – and Lord Sugar’s associates were definitely not impressed.

2. Know your stuff

Francesca MacDuff-Varley.
(Suzan/Empics Entertainment)

This goes pretty much without saying and you’d assume candidates would have swotted up and done their homework before subjecting themselves to the wrath of Lord Sugar’s right hand men.

The Apprentice hopefuls have had months, even years, to mull over their potential business plans, getting the stats and figured down to a T – but they still manage to get it wrong.

When Series 9′s Francesca MacDuff-Varley was facing a grilling from Claude Littner about her company’s supposed turnover of £5 million, she red-faced admitted: “It was just a number, number five came to my head.”


3. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar

Like they say, a smile goes a long way – even if the stony-faced Claude Littner doesn’t think so.

Remember Roisin’s diamond heist where she charmed the £145 jewel out of the dealer’s hand for a mere £50.

Throughout the previous series a number of candidates have been criticised (and subsequently fired) for being dull and lacking charisma, or similarly coming under fire for their aggressive nature – not mentioning any names.. (Series 5′s Debra Barr).

4. Ditch the clichés

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from the past nine series of The Apprentice is that Lord Sugar and his cronies hate the cringey ‘I’m not a one trick pony’ lines – and we hate them just as much.

They’re unoriginal, uninspiring and there are a 101 better ways to sell yourself than with an overused phrase.

And who is The Apprentice’s reigning king of the cliche one-liners? Why it has to be Series 6′s Stuart-everything-I-touch-turns-to-sold-Baggs (The Brand) who Lord Sugar himself blasted for being ‘full of s***’.

5. Don’t bad-mouth previous employers

Luisa Zissman and Leah Totton faced each other in The Apprentice final.
(Ian West/PA)

Major no-no. Belittling your peers, past employers or current employers, does not make you seem any more desirable, you just end up looking spiteful and frankly unprofessional.

Series 9 runner up Luisa Zissman was infamous for being outspoken, but should’ve probably kept her thoughts to herself instead of citing: “My old boss was a total idiot and taught me how not to manage people.”

We can’t imagine the woman in question will be offering a complimentary references any time soon.


6. There’s nothing like a bit of self-promotion

Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford.

(Ian West/PA)

Lord Sugar’s interrogators revel in picking apart the candidates, scrutinising their strengths and weaknesses, to see if they have what it takes to be his business partner. What they should do is take the opportunity to sell themselves, but is that what they actually do? No, not always…

Series 9 candidate Francesca learned the hard way when she was facing the scrutiny of Margaret Mountford. “What’s the most interesting thing about you?” Margaret read, rifling through the pages of Francesca’s folder. “My shoe collection and my ability to drink.”

And no, Margaret was not impressed.


7. Sometimes a filter is a good thing

Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. If there’s anything the past contestants have taught us it’s to refrain from rambling on incessantly – because sure enough, you’ll end up spouting utter rubbish.

Just like Series 9 hopeful Jordan Poulton, who managed to recite an intense soliloquy during his interrogation with Claudine Collins – without even pausing for breath. “I’m going to move on,” she replied.