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What can The Apprentice teach us about recruitment?

April 19, 2024

The Apprentice is simply great TV entertainment. With its boardroom bust ups and the shameless self-serving behaviour of ruthless competitors who are all vying for favour from Sir Alan Sugar, the show is a must see. The successes and failures of the would-be apprentices are compulsive viewing.

But there is a serious side to the programme which teaches us several lessons about how to succeed in recruitment and the world of work.

Details matter

How many times have we cringed at the basic mistakes made by the contestants on the BBC1 show? The answer: too many. Simple spelling mistakes or a failure to properly research a subject have frequently been the undoing of many of the contestants and that is true of job applicants too. Make sure your CV is perfect with no spelling or typing mistakes and make sure you fully research the job you are applying for.

Develop good communication skills

Contestants’ failure to communicate is a great showstopper in The Apprentice as they bicker and argue. Good communication skills are essential in the working world not only when working with colleagues and clients but in getting a job in the first place. You need to be articulate if you are to convey your ideas successfully and you must also be able to listen respectfully. Both skills are vital during an interview and recruiters want good communicators, especially if they are to work with clients.

Show your critical thinking skills

Contestants on The Apprentice are set challenges to test how they solve problems and assess their resourcefulness. And many times, it is a lack of these attributes which are their undoing with hilarious if cringeworthy results. So too in the working world, critical thinking is essential for success and some job interviews will involve an assessment which can test if the candidate is imaginative and can work independently to solve problems. Don’t be afraid of this challenge – rather it is an opportunity to show your qualities which might just land you your dream job.

Leadership qualities

Death or glory on The Apprentice is often the fate of the project leader. If they win the challenge, the hero will stay. Lose and the writing is on the wall as Sir Alan says unambiguously: You’re fired! Demonstrating leadership qualities is also important in group interviews. You must be respectful – no-one wants to employ someone who is prepared to trample over others to get what they want – but you should try to show you are willing to stand up and take responsibility. Calmness, integrity, innovation and leadership are all highly desirable qualities in an employee.

Learn your lesson

Defiant Apprentice contestants often refuse to back down if they make a mistake, sticking stubbornly to their plan for fear of losing face. But the egg is profoundly on their face when the mistake unfolds before Sir Alan. There is no shame in making a mistake… but there is from not learning from it. If you don’t succeed in your bid to get a job, find out what went wrong so you can learn from it for the next application.

Working together

Each candidate on The Apprentice tries to outshine the others to take the prize but the show demonstrates how they have to work as a team to get the job done. Collaboration is an important part of every day working life so while it is good to exhibit your own qualities, you must also show how you can work with others without egos getting in the way. Recruiters will want candidates who can bring initiative to the business but who can work well with colleagues.

Get the right help for you and your company

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