global recruitment specialists
Lessons from The Apprentice, week 12
How to get hired
Last night's finale of The Apprentice 2015 pitched broken boilers against broken hearts, as finalists Joseph Valente and Vana Koutsomitis presented their businesses to an audience of industry experts. At the end of a closely fought competition, Lord Sugar chose Joseph as his next business partner – the man who'd turned a youth spent in hot water into a hot water business. What can his victory in the competition teach us?
How to get hired
Lesson #1: Prove your aptitude
"You've got more cheek than Kim Kardashian"
There's no doubt that Joseph knows his industry well; the success of his existing business – launched at an early age – is testament to that. What Lord Sugar wanted to know was how well he would be able to scale up with the £250,000 investment. Throughout the series, Joseph has shown considerable skill across a range of challenges; what's more, he's demonstrated an ability to grow – most notably taking charge of the handyman task – and to adapt – as evidenced recently in the interview stage.
Joseph seized the opportunities that were given to him in this process. Even at the end, he took advantage of the contacts he made in the final task: filming testimonials with them; learning of smart technology; gaining key figures' business cards. Having demonstrated strong personal development across the weeks and an eye for opportunity, his offer to Lord Sugar was a measured plan for growth – to invest in new equipment and staff in larger cities and pitch for large business contracts, and his likelihood of achieving this looks strong.
Key take-away: the first key question an interviewer looks to answer is ‘Can you do the job?' Demonstrate that you're equipped with the skills and wherewithal to do the job at hand
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Lesson #2: Prove your motivation
"The title of that book was What You See Is What You Get… what I'm saying to you is what you see is what you get"
In the same way it's clear Joseph has the aptitude to run a business in the service industry, it's evident he places high value in service itself. Having confessed he got into plumbing because he was asked to leave school, he's clearly become someone who loves what he does and prides himself on his hard work.
In his final pitch to Lord Sugar he referenced the book he claims changed his life – a claim he had backed up when scrutinised on his knowledge of the book's contents in the interview round. What Joseph brought together so eloquently in his final boardroom pitch was something he'd demonstrated throughout: not just a motivation to do his job and do it well, and not just a desire to make money, but to do it all for Lord Sugar. A candidate who wants to be successful for themselves is one thing, but a candidate who wants to be successful for the sake of their employer (or, in this case, business partner) is another, and Joseph put that quality across exceptionally well.
Key take-away: the second question an interviewer looks to answer is ‘Will you be motivated to do the job?' Show that you're passionate about what you do and the specific opportunity on offer
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Lesson #3: Prove you're a good fit
"I hope you can see me as a person and I hope you buy into me"
Vana was right that it was all about the match. Ironically, it was the match between Lord Sugar and Joseph that saw her finish as runner-up, as the former chose the opportunity to invest in a service business over his long-standing ‘best friend' technology. Part of this was a better match between the investment level and business plan on offer – Vana's business likely requiring a further cash injection – but part was down to character, the fact that people buy into people. The story Joseph told throughout, of his background and his affinity to Lord Sugar, and also through his growth in the process, was coherent and tempting.
Of course, Lord Sugar was not without his concerns. There was his own lack of experience in this field, as well as the question of his personal standing in an industry that's alien to him. Our own James Reed asked the question during Joseph's presentation: how would he select the right staff to uphold his standard? In the end, Joseph appealed to Lord Sugar's faith in him as the figurehead of his business, and his ability to hold people to his own high standards. All new ventures require an element of trust, and Joseph had shown enough throughout the tasks and in the finale for Lord Sugar to place his faith in him. What he had claimed about his passion and his work ethic he had proven, and Lord Sugar's investment seems a good match for him, as an individual and at this point in his career journey.
Key take-away: the third question an interviewer looks to answer is ‘Will we be able to work successfully together?' Learn about the business and show you're the right person to succeed there
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Every winner needs a runner-up, and Vana was a worthy candidate throughout the process. Intelligent and well-spoken (in a wide array of languages), she was an asset to her team on many tasks. Her plan to combine dating and gamification remains an intriguing one, and, perhaps with more investment on offer, she might have walked away with Lord Sugar's investment. Regardless, it'll be interesting to see what happens next with DatePlay.
All that remains is to wish all this year's candidates the best of luck in their future ventures, Joseph and Lord Sugar all the best in their new partnership, and a merry Christmas and happy New Year to all.
Do you think the right person won #TheApprentice last night?— REED (@reedglobal) December 21, 2015