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Jamie’s Journey: Claude’s top 5 interview tips

Business executive Claude Littner gives his expert advice on how to ace an interview.

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Claude Littner, best known as the interviewer on The Apprentice, has interviewed countless candidates over his career. He gave Jamie some insights about the interview process and shared what he looks for in candidates. Follow his top five tips to get a head start on your next interview.

1: Being late will seal your fate

The advent of smartphones and ‘always-on’ communication devices have made being late much more acceptable in many modern working scenarios, but it is never acceptable to be a late for a job interview.

The message it sends to your potential employer is that you don’t value his or her time and even worse, don’t value the opportunity presented to you.

It is your chance to shine and present yourself in the most positive light – do not lose sight of the fact that even the most relaxed of employers will remember lateness.

In terms of practicalities, your route to the interview location should be researched for any planned engineering work or otherwise, and you should aim to arrive early.

If something unplanned happens, you’ve covered yourself and even if your journey is completely hassle free, you can gain some vital composure time before your interview.

2: Research, research and research again

Researching every facet of your job interview is crucial. Too often I have had candidates who have claimed significant levels of enthusiasm for a role and yet have no significant knowledge of the business.

That creates an empty enthusiasm that looks disingenuous – how can you truly be keen for a role if you don’t know key information about a company?

Be it learning the quickest way of getting to your interview, researching the company’s performance over the past six months, or finding out a bit more about the person interviewing you, the more you plan before you enter the interview, the less thinking on your feet you’ll have to do in it – allowing yourself the freedom to just show your best.

3: Tailor your CV…and your suit!

Every employer and role is different, so why do you think your CV and attire should be the regimentally the same? Too many people consider their CV to be carved in stone, but tailoring to suit the role you’re applying for is crucial.

If you are applying for a marketing role in a tech firm, highlight your best achievements associated with tech. If you are applying for a marketing role in the leisure industry, adapt your CV to highlight the most relevant wins you have in that sector.

It sounds obvious, but it is so often overlooked – your CV is your calling card. Be prepared to constantly amend and adjust it to ensure you always put your best foot forward.

The same logic can be applied for presenting yourself at an interview. If you are applying to a creative advertising campaign, turning up in a three-piece suit from Savile Row might not strike the right tone.

Sure, nobody is going to be turned down for being too smart, but it might create the impression that you’re not the right personality fit, or haven’t grasped the culture of the place you’re applying to. Needless to say, if I’m ever interviewing you – wear a suit.

Read these articles to follow Jamie on his jobseeker journey:

Meet the contenders: The 5 runners-up reveal their stories.
Improve your body language: India Ford puts Jamie through his paces.
Career coaching: Aimee Bateman helps Jamie plan for his career.
CV makeover: Jamie gets his CV rewritten by the experts at CV Knowhow
Understanding HR jobs: The totaljobs HR team give Jamie an insight into the sector.
Finding the right fit: Jamie tries the Good&Co app to find out more about himself.
Visiting a law firm: Linda Farrell gives Jamie advice about embarking on a law career.
Jamie is hired!: Learn more about Jamie’s new role at fashion label Finery.
The Prince’s Trust workshop: What did young jobseekers think of Jamie’s journey?

4: Your mind is telling me yes, but your body is telling me no

Body language is a really important way of striking a great first impression. I am instantly more engaged with candidates who are bright-eyed, sat up straight and making eye contact. It tells me that they are confident in themselves and therefore are able to project confidence on others – be it in a brainstorm or a board meeting.

Conversely, a candidate might have tons of natural ability but if they are fidgety, slumped or fundamentally untidy in an interview, I believe that will reveal itself in their everyday work too. The average interview time is less than 30 minutes; there is no need to make yourself feel too comfortable!

5: Be yourself, but your professional self

A popular question I get asked is “how much personality should I show in interviews?” and it’s a great question as it’s nearly impossible to answer!

Every employer wants to see personality, but only personality that is conducive to their workplace.

If you are driven, ambitious, creative, friendly and seemingly able to converse socially and professionally with people – these are personality traits that you should look to project.

Equally, if you have some interesting hobbies and interests that could be equated to the workplace, don’t be afraid to share.

Where the line should be drawn is when you’re bordering on over-sharing. As a general rule, sob-stories are best saved for X Factor, and a few well-timed quips and a jovial personality are good, but ensure they are not overdone to the extent that an employer may worry that you’re class clown.

It’s not a problem if you are “that guy” in your social groups, but in a working environment it’s different.

Read 15 minutes with Claude Littner for an extended version of this article.

Jamie’s hired! #MillionPoundJamie has landed his ideal job at the online clothing brand Finery. He’s started in a customer experience and office support role at the exciting start-up. Nice one Jamie!

Find out more about Jamie’s amazing journey and watch all the videos!

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(All comments have to be approved before they appear)

  1. Dmitrijs Sunday, 18 Sep, 2016 at 5:49 pm


  2. Arthur Streebling Sunday, 18 Sep, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    Genuinely enjoying this Million Pound Jamie content / campaign – good bit of marketing Total Jobs!

  3. Alexande Ledingham Saturday, 8 Apr, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    I am an experienced Building Maintenance Manager with 30 years experience.
    I am amazed at what is required to get employment in todays market.
    It was my belief that knowledge, experience and dedication was sufficient to be considered for an interview / get employment.
    However in my case I have applied for over eighty positions and have had a few replies but never yet had an interview. Which has left me deflated but in no way defeated. I am staying positive.

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