The Apprentice aide Claude Littner’s top tips for acing a job interview

Lord Sugar’s arch inquisitor shares his dos and don’t for your own job interviews

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Claude Littner might seem like a tough guy when he’s tearing apart business plans and shattering dreams in The Apprentice’s interview task, but he’s all heart really. 

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He’s already revealed that he actually has a lot more sympathy for the candidates than you might expect, and now he’s offering the rest of us tips on how to succeed in our own job interviews in the future.

We’d hope our own interviews would be a little less terrifying than one with Claude, but hey – in this economy, we’ll take all the advice we can get.


Step 1: Remember it’s not really like The Apprentice

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Karren Brady, Lord Sugar and Claude Littner in The Apprentice

“The Apprentice-type interview is a one-way process, in that they’re not asking me any questions about what’s it like working for Lord Sugar,” Claude says. 

“There’s none of that trying to find out what the job is about and seeing if it’s a really good fit, which is exactly what you’re trying to establish when you’re doing a genuine interview.

“So in an interview, I want to find the best candidate for a role. The candidate needs to also find out whether he’s suited for it and he’s gotta be told exactly what the role entails, and whether his personality and his ability, his skillset are ones that marry up with what I’ve got to offer.

“It’s much more of an open two-way process, whereas the Apprentice interviews really are quite different.”


Step 2: Remind yourself that you have a good hand already

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“I think the first thing is, that you are very very fortunate if you get to the point where you’ve got an interview,” Claude says. 

“Because, if you imagine there are many many CVs that come through the door, and if somebody has picked up on your CV, that already means that you are in the top ten of a thousand or however many applicants have presented themselves with CVs.

“So already, you’re in with a chance – because no-one’s gonna waste their time with somebody who hasn’t got a prayer. So that already is very very important.”


Step 3: Prepare, prepare, prepare

“Having been given this great opportunity, so to speak, I think it’s incumbent on you to prepare yourself really well,” Claude tells us. “By preparing yourself, it means you need to do some research on the company.

“For example you’ve come to me, I’m Mars. I go ‘Do you know anything about our product range?’ – and you don’t know anything at all. You don’t know that Mars make Mars bars. I mean it sounds nonsensical, but if you haven’t done the research on the company, you really need to.

“You need to demonstrate to the person who’s interviewing you that you really do want this job. This is not just one of a thousand applications, although it may well be, but this is one that you really like, and you’ve got to kind of create the aura of why you want the job, why you think this is a job where you feel you can prosper, why you feel you can add value to the company.

“So you’ve got to know as much as you can about the company’s performance. And it’s easy to do that kind of research, many people just fail to do it.”


Step 4: Look and act the part

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It might sound shallow, but according to Claude appearances are still everything. 

“Obviously, the normal things like arriving on time, being properly attired, giving a proper handshake, giving eye contact, not slouching, not being monosyllabic [are important],” he says.

“There are a million different things that you need to do in addition to that, but I think the start point if you’ve got an interview, is to make sure that you put your best foot forward.

“Show the interviewer that this is the job that you really want, that you’re capable of doing, and in the event that they would offer you the job, you would definitely accept it.”


Step 5: DEFINITELY don’t misread the room

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When asked what final big mistake we should all avoid in job interviews, Claude has just one answer.

“I think misjudging the mood of the interviewer,” he says. “So that if for example the interviewer is very stern and serious, and very correct if you know what I mean, then I think you don’t want a guy who’ll crack a few jokes and slouch on the table, and be relaxed.

“On the other hand, if the interviewer is kind of a relaxed individual who’s got some charisma and wants you to relax, I think it’s important to, kind of, not be too stiff then.

“Then again, you don’t want to put your feet on his desk and start telling dirty jokes – but I do think you’ve got to somehow marry up the mood or the demeanor of the interviewer to make sure that you’re hitting it right, because the idea also is that you have some rapport in the short time that you have the interview with the interviewer so that he gets the impression that you’re the kind of man who actually will fit in well with the company.” 

Some solid advice to leave with – though we can only imagine the fireworks if an Apprentice candidate put their feet up on the table mid-interview… 

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The Apprentice continues on BBC1 tonight (Thursday 15th December) at 9:00pm