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15 interview tips from The Apprentice finalist Claire Young

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Since leaving university 15 years ago I have sat on both sides of the fence in the interview process. As an undergraduate I applied for 83 jobs (and was rejected by 76!) and now I run my own business recruiting people to join the School Speakers team. Of course, I was grilled by Alan Sugar’s team for the interview round of The Apprentice.

Finding a job has always been competitive, now more than ever. It is estimated that there are 90 people going after every opportunity so you need to stand out from the crowd. Hopefully my tips below will help:

#1 Be clear what you’re good at and know your USP (unique selling point). Ask yourself, what makes you different and why should a company hire you.

#2 Shout out about your experience. Use any work experience to illustrate skills you have gained, and used, which would be perfect for the role you are being interviewed for.

#3 Have passion and enthusiasm. People want to interview candidates who work hard and have get up and go. A smile is your best accessory.

#4 Choose your attitude wisely. Show the interviewer how much you want the job and tell them that. A good question at the end of the interview could be “is there anything else I could have done in this interview to impress you? I really want this job.”

#5 Be prepared and do your research about the company and the person interviewing you, where possible. Look up their social media profiles.

#6 First impressions count. If you look the part people will think that you are the part. Arrive early, be calm, look smart. Remember it is always better to be over dressed than under dressed.

#7 Prepare questions! It always impresses me when candidates use their initiative to research my business and ask questions. If you are nervous write down the questions and take them with you into the interview.

#8 If you are unsure how to answer a question, don’t rush and ramble garbage….ask them to repeat the question…say you are unsure what they are asking for…ask for a moment to think about it and if you’re really stuck, ask if you can come back to the question later. Give yourself time to think.

#9 Be confident but leave arrogance at the door. Be positive about your abilities and avoid cockiness.

#10 Try and enjoy yourself; interviewing is almost like a matchmaking process. You should feel that the company is the right place for you too.

#11 Be yourself, genuine and authentic. Don’t try to be something you’re not in the interview. Also never lie on a CV, employers will check.

#12 Tailor CVs and replies to applications which include the company values and incorporate key words which are important to them. Yes, this takes time but will be worth it.

#13 Rejection is going to happen. Learn from mistakes, ask for feedback and move forward. You need to keep positive and keep on applying. Opportunities don’t land in your lap, you make them happen.

#14 Ask for help and use all resources available to you. I like the phrase “in life if you don’t ask, you don’t get.” The worse thing anyone can say is no and the next person may hopefully say yes.

#15 Be open to change, embrace new opportunities and have a ‘can do’ approach. Employers will see this and be impressed. They want people who are flexible, accommodating and have a great work ethic.

For more career advice from the stars of The Apprentice, read Claude Littner’s top 5 interview tips.

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