You’re Hired: Lessons to Learn from The Apprentice

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With the latest series of BBC’s The Apprentice wrapped up, there are a number of lessons to learn from this year’s winner – and losers. Lord Alan Sugar has named Joseph Valente as victor, winning him a £250,000 investment and a partnership to start up his own business, but is the TV show really representative of a real hiring experience? Let’s hope not.

As we learnt in the Interviews stage, it never pays to provide incorrect information during the recruitment process. Both marketing man Richard Woods and retailer-turned-entertainer Gary Poulton faced criticism from the interviewing panel for inaccuracies or exaggerations on their applications, from numbers that didn’t match up with those supplied by references, to claiming existing work as original.

On the other hand, plumbing entrepreneur Joseph Valente impressed Mike Soutar, CEO of Shortlist Media, by backing up his claims and answering a series of questions on Lord Sugar’s autobiography. Whilst it’s tempting to make impressive claims when compiling applications, applicants must be sure they can back these up if questioned on these in an interview.

Of course, The Apprentice is well known for the exaggerations of candidates, but in the real world there has to be a line drawn between showing yourself in the best light and misrepresenting the facts.

Our latest Candidate Health Check found that two-thirds 64% of job applications contain incorrect information. Education is the area where people are most likely to make mistakes, with 42% of job applications containing inaccurate information in this area. This is up from 40% a year ago. The second area that people are most likely to include incorrect details is in their employment history. 37% of job applications contained inaccurate information in this section. Recruiters need to be wary and not leave it until too late in the process to check the claims of those who they are looking to hire.

Beyond this, one can wonder, why would a candidate want to go through such a gruelling and confrontational process as that employed by Lord Sugar and his helpers? Instead, a softer approach will create a more positive candidate experience. An interview should never be a one-way interrogation, but rather a mutual decision to discover matching skills with the needs of the company, as well as determining whether a candidate will be a good cultural fit. Only then can HR teams have a “You’re hired” moment.



HireRight is here to help guide you through the biggest screening challenges so you can focus on what’s important to you; attracting top talent. HireRight provides employment background screening services to organisations of any size, in every industry, and nearly anywhere.

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