The Apprentice | Former winner reveals top tips for virtual & in-person job interviews

Former winner reveals top tips for virtual & in-person job interviews

The countdown to the final of the BBC’s The Apprentice is on, as the candidates get one step closer to the end of the process.

Tonight’s episode of the hit BBC show – which follows the journey of budding entrepreneurs who are competing to become Lord Sugar’s next business partner – is the ‘interviews stage’.

Within this, the remaining candidates present their business plans to a handful of Lord Sugar’s most trusted advisors, and have their CVs inspected with a fine tooth comb in the nail-biting interviews.

Aside from giving viewers a look at the do’s and don’ts when it comes to presenting a business plan, it also shines a light on interview practices and how candidates should go about these in the workplace.

Ricky Martin shares his top tips

As someone who has previously appeared on the popular show (and won it back in 2012), Ricky Martin, Founder and Managing Director at Hyper Recruitment Solutions (HRS) will likely know a thing or two about navigating interviews.

Added to which, given that he owns and runs a recruitment company – which specialises in life science recruitment – he’s likely had a lot of experience interviewing candidates from a personal perspective.

Below, Martin shares his top tricks and tips for candidates that are either attending virtual or in-person job interviews.

Virtual interviews

Many employers are continuing to utilise virtual interviews in some form. In fact, LinkedIn data found that 84% of talent professionals in EMEA and 80% of professionals in the UK believe that virtual recruitment will stay post-coronavirus.

When interviews take place through a screen, Martin suggested that it can be tricky for enthusiasm to come across.

He continued: “So, a key tip is to try and put a little bit more body language than you might do in a video because it will show someone that you’re passionate about what you do and it can help enthusiasm come through. [It’s] hard to get enthusiasm [across] on video.”

In-person interviews

On the flip side, following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, many employers are heading back to the office and this will likely mean the return of in-person interviews.

Martin explained: “In-person [interviews] start from the minute you turn up to the building to the minute you leave the building. When you are on video, you’re in the interview room – the waiting room is a virtual screen and you don’t see anyone.

“But, in real life, the whole process, the waiting room, the receptionist if there is one, walking [and] using the [toilet] all of those areas are part of the process.” Therefore, Martin said that eye contact and engaging the other person in conversation is key.

Traditionally, shaking hands upon entering an interview was part and parcel of the process. However, following the peak of the pandemic, Martin said that "there’s an awkwardness now to handshaking”.

For example, some may not want to shake hands, while others will feel uncomfortable not knowing how they should go about greeting their interviewer instead.

Martin continued: “I would recommend going into a room smiling, with eye contact, I would be saying ‘are you happy to shake hands?’. I would ask the question. At the very least, it’s an ice breaker.”

Virtual or in-person interviews

While Martin has shed light on advice for candidates engaging in either virtual or in-person interviews, he does shares some other tips which can be applied for any interview – whether in-person or virtual. This is one which he said is “so simple but often missed”.

He explained: “Tips and tricks for in-person which is the same for video is make sure you ask questions. At the end of an interview, the worst thing that can happen is an interviewer will say ‘do you have any questions for me?’” and the candidate has nothing to ask.

For him, he said that this insinuates two things: firstly that the candidate hasn’t prepared and, secondly, that they aren’t able to listen to the conversation and interpret it.

He continued: “Asking questions is so important. For me, if someone has no questions at the end, it’s almost like there’s a negative mark for them in my mental scoring system.

“So, [candidates should] ask relevant questions that are important for [them] to show interest in the role and to understand the business [that they would] work for.”

Whether candidates are preparing for in-person or virtual interviews (or a bit of both), the above advice could help candidates get ahead in their own interview process.

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