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Watchtime episode 14: Interview tips from The Apprentice

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Watchtime episode 14: Interview tips from the Apprentice

On today’s episode, Elliott and Aleksandra will share some of their best tips for those who wish to stand out of the competition when attending a job interview. Aleksandra, former candidate on the BBC Apprentice beat up to 150,000 candidates, what makes her advice double valuable.

On the other hand, as MintTwist’s CEO Elliott exposes his best tips as an interviewer.

Together, they will outline their top three tips when going into a job interview:

  1. Be confident (but don’t be arrogant). Make sure that you look confident enough on the interview, and don’t be afraid of saying that you don’t know about a particular thing!
  2. Ask the right questions. Ask questions when appropriate and give strong details on your answers.

Keep listening to our podcast to know how to get the job on your next interview!

*This episode was multi-streamed with ReStream.


Aleksandra (00:03):

The WATCHTIME show sponsored by digital agency MintTwist.

Elliott (00:13):

Welcome to WATCHTIME. My name is Elliott King,

Aleksandra (00:17):

I’m Aleksandra King.

Elliott (00:18):

And this show is brought to you by the digital agency minttwist, and it’s being streamed, multi streamed across multiple social media channels using the restream software. So what are we speaking about this week Aleksandra?

Aleksandra (00:32):

We have such a useful podcast today, literally everything you need to know about getting through an interview and getting the job.

Elliott (00:42):

Yeah, and I think we’ve got, if I might say, say we’ve got the right people here for you tonight and myself, and that I’m an employer and CEO of MintTwist, I’ve probably run over a thousand interviews and employed probably over at well over a hundred people in the time I’ve been doing that job. So from the employer’s perspective, I can hopefully bring a lot of value today.

Aleksandra (01:03):

Yeah. You have actually hired a lot of people and I would consider myself somewhat of an interview guru if I do say so myself only because to be fair, I’ve never, ever failed an interview, always passed with flying colours and I’ve probably done one of the biggest interviews ever, which is applying for and getting in on the BBC apprentice. How many people try it out?

Elliott (01:30):

That’s about 150,000 people.

Aleksandra (01:33):

150,000. So I can say that I’ve got some experience in the interview field, plus I love it. I love the challenge of the interview. Love it.

Elliott (01:41):

Yeah. I have to say you’re quite, you’ve got plenty of skills and knowledge to bring as an interviewee and I as an interviewer. So let’s see. Let’s see if we can tie them both together.

Aleksandra (01:52):

Yeah. I think what we can do is if you give your top three tips as an interviewer and I’ll give my top three tips as an interviewee, and then we’ll see how we get on with that.

Elliott (02:01):

I think one of the first things I want to talk about is the balance of confidence. And what I mean is confidence in the interviewee so it’s, it is important to show some element of confidence, but you can obviously go over the top. So having the right balance for me for most people will be a function, a function of practice.

Aleksandra (02:28):

Yeah. I think it’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. So you don’t really want to be confident in yourself and be like, “I’m the best. I’m the most wonderful…” It’s not actually about you. It’s about your position. So if you’re confident in what you can offer for that position, that’s a different confidence in being in there going “I’m the, I’m the best, I’m the best.”

Elliott (02:52):

And now I think if you’re going into an interview and you show a lack of confidence, hopefully a good interviewer who realizes that there might be more that you can give to your answers, but you’re just not bringing it up because I think the interview can help you out. Now. I’d like to think, yeah.

Aleksandra (03:09):

I mean, you’re an exceptionally good interviewer, but I think, you know, the last thing you would want is to show that you’re not confident in a position that you’re going for. I mean, if they say to you, you know, do you know something and you don’t know it, if you can honestly say, I don’t know it, however I will learn. And I’m a quick learner and I enjoy learning then that’s good. You don’t have to know everything, but I think you need to have confidence and exhibit confidence in the position that you’re applying.

Elliott (03:37):

Yeah. And one of the best ways to do that for me, whether you’re a confident person or not a confident person, is the way that you set the tone when you very first meet the person. So it’s that, that small talk essentially before the interview starts. So how do you approach that initial?

Aleksandra (03:53):

Do you know? I’m actually terrible at small talk. I get right in, I get right into the position. I’ll say my hellos. And then I’m just, I’m all about the position and I’m completely and utterly focused on that.

Elliott (04:06):

But what I’m, what I’m really thinking about is things like, well, pre Corona virus, times that the hands shake, do you look them in the eye… do you? You know, how, where do you sit in relation to them? If you’ve got any tips there?

Aleksandra (04:20):

Well, I just am as comfortable as I possibly can be, because I think if you’re uncomfortable, then you make the interviewer uncomfortable. Do you find that?

Elliott (04:31):

It’s a very good point. Yes. It’s important to be as natural as possible in those first couple of…

Aleksandra (04:35):

So go with the flow. If they say, sit here, you sit here. You know, you wait to be spoken to, and then if they ask you a question that you answer it,

Elliott (04:42):

What about if they offer you a drink? Do you say yes. Do you say no? Yeah.

Aleksandra (04:47):

I always say, no, I don’t want to have a jittery, like, Ooh. And then spill my tea and then, you know, we’ll have like tea running down. Just don’t add obstacles. No obstacles.

Elliott (04:57):

Yes. That’s an interesting one. I wouldn’t, I would say as an interviewer, if I offer someone a drink and they say, yes, I’m very, very happy. if they say no, it’s not a problem at all. So yeah. I would say that’s, that’s one for you to play. If you don’t have to have the drink. Just don’t have it.” So look getting the right balance of confidence is I think so. And, and like we’re saying, like I’m saying, I think you can set the tone by how you engage that person right off the bat and not just a component in the middle of the interview. Tip number two, is provides the right amount of detail in your answers and feel very free. And in fact, I would advise you to ask questions where appropriate. Now this doesn’t mean ask a question just for the sake of it, but if you’re asked a question and as part of the answer, you want to capture some more information, particularly if it’s relevant to the job that applying for, I think that’s really, really powerful and valuable thing to do.

Elliott (06:01):


Aleksandra (06:01):

It’s really basic if you sort of sit there and just like, yeah, no, and answer your questions and not have any like input. Yeah.

Elliott (06:10):

Because it gives, it gives the interviewer the feeling. And hopefully it’s a true feeling that you’re actually genuinely interested in the job. And by asking questions is a really great way of evidencing that.

Aleksandra (06:19):

So number one, good level of confidence, but not arrogance. Number two, ask the right questions. Number three.

Elliott (06:25):

And number three, it would be, it would be making sure that you’re doing the right balance of talking throughout the whole interview. So in my view, as an interviewer or I want my interviewee to be doing most of the talking, certainly through the chunk of the interview. So if you’re going through an interview and you’re finding that the interviewer is doing the majority of talking as a really basic rule of thumb is probably not a good thing in my view.

Aleksandra (06:53):

Yeah. And you’ll know if you, if you’re talking too much, if they start sort of looking at the next question, you know, or like looking away a little bit or getting a bit, you know, restless in their chair, but they’re showing interest and the body language is leaning towards you and you know, there’s more prompting and more questions and you’re on the right track.

Elliott (07:10):

Yeah. I spoke about balance of confidence with point number one. And if you’re confident in what you’re saying, then say it, absolutely say it in my view with my personal experience. If I am speaking more than 50% of the time, it’s probably not a great interview. If I’m asking questions it’s because I want to get deep understanding of that prospect. I already understand myself. I know what I think. I don’t care what I think. I want to know what the interviewee thinks.

Aleksandra (07:37):

Yeah. Because the last thing you want to do as a person being hired is give your employer more work… take the work off them. That’s it not, don’t give them more work. Don’t exhaust them. Yeah.

Elliott (07:50):

So let’s turn it around then. And then as the interview, he, what would be..?

Aleksandra (07:54):

So I have slightly different ones. So, none of the mainstream, none of the mainstream ones. So my number one tip interview tip would be to really become the position. So whatever it is that you’re getting hired for… breathe it, live it, become it. Know every single thing you possibly can about that position and how you are going to integrate yourself into that position. So that there’s nothing that you don’t know about it. There’s nothing that you can’t discuss when it comes to the position. You are the position, even before you walk into that room. So it’s a good mindset to have to program yourself into that role. “Yeah” really, really good one.

Elliott (08:34):

That is a brilliant one. I’d have to say there are plenty of schools of thought that talk about the power of visualization and visualizing where you want to do, who you want to be.

Aleksandra (08:43):

So for example, you could, you know, whatever position you’re applying for, obviously read the role in great detail, learn about the company, learn about how and take your skills and how you could integrate your skills through the position, into the company to make the company grow. So it’s a much deeper, deeper level than, “Oh yes, I can do this and this” and then waiting for them to ask you questions. No, you’re there to show them what you can do, what you can bring to the table for their business. So you have to become like a family.

Elliott (09:10):

Yeah. I think that’s a very powerful one. I’m definitely going to take that one on board myself. Oh definitely. It’s a brilliant one.

Aleksandra (09:18):

And then the next one, it kind of relates to the one before, but like your choice of language during the interview is really important. So because I’m there to be hired and I want to become part of this new family. I would use language that integrates me into the business, such as we, our objectives together. We can. And so on. I wouldn’t say you, me, I would already speak as if I’m hired, not in an arrogant way, like you were saying, but in a way that, you know, “Oh, what we could do together, you know, in this department and…” start speaking as if you’re already in that position so that everyone visualizes you there, you’re visualizing yourself. You’re putting a picture into the employer’s mind you’re programming them.

Elliott (10:06):

Yeah. It’s a psychological well, yeah, but actually it’s the sort of thing that you’d probably welcome, particularly if the interview is going well and look, it’s, that’s a technique that can work in sales as well, if you’re trying to bring clients on board. So I think that’s also very good.

Aleksandra (10:24):

Yeah. And then the last tip that I went to personally do is. Okay, there’s going to be a lot of people applying for that job. And they all probably going to have a CD similar to you. And they’re probably going to speak more or less the same as you. The interview will probably be very, very similar. So what do you need to do is make sure that you bring that something extra. Now you’ve got to think ahead and plan ahead what that’s going to be. But if, for example, it’s an additional assignment that you could bring to the job, an additional project, or that little bit of research that you did, or maybe you read about the strategy that of companies going in and you bring them a document. I said, you know what? I’ve read up about the competition. They’ve done this just a little tip. We might, WE might want to work on something like this, but just that whatever it is, bring it. This is a competition. And you want that role, so bring it.

Elliott (11:19):

I guess, I guess that goes, that’s going the extra mile. It’s doing that extra piece of research and being creative. And…

Aleksandra (11:26):

So you can put in the graph and bring something else to the table. Don’t be like everyone else, because you will not get hired or he might, you know, you might get hired. But if you bring that extra, you will most certainly get hired.

Elliott (11:39):

Yeah. So the question I want to ask you is, did you use these techniques to get into the apprentice.

Aleksandra (11:47):

And more. We might do another podcast and some extra ones.

Elliott (11:50):

Could you, could you share us a little teaser story? OnAbout one of the interviews.

Aleksandra (11:54):

I’m not allowed to be there. They don’t allow us to really say in great detail what exactly we do, but I can, I can say that the interview process takes many months, many months, and anyone that gets on the apprentice, although they might seem like they’re completely useless. They’ve got something because to get it through that, that is hard. So, and they’ve obviously anyone going through their process does have a chance of working with Lord sugar. So they’ve got to have something.

Elliott (12:23):

Yeah, I think, I think it’s fair to say that the tasks they put you through are more challenging than the average job interview.

Aleksandra (12:30):

Yeah although it’s 50% TV, but never mind. But the interview process is a hundred percent business and proper. So that’s, that’s probably my favourite bit of the entire apprenticing.

Elliott (12:41):

And I suppose one thing you also pointed out is treat an interview process as a competition. It’s an opportunity for you.

Aleksandra (12:49):

Huge competition. I treat it like a running race, like the Olympics. I prepare, I take that so seriously. And I am not walking our plum Hyatt. That’s that it is a challenge and you want to win.

Elliott (13:03):

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And what about I tell you, this is another one for me as an interviewer. Sometimes I’ve run an interview process and they asked me for feedback as an interviewer, I’ve always, I’ve always tried to, on the side of being very, very, very honest. So I would actually give them honest feedback if they ask me an honest question. I I’ve told people that, you know, I’m sorry. I don’t think they’re right for the job if I don’t, if I hadn’t thought they were right for the job. So what’s your take on asking questions at the end of the interview and how far can you push those questions?

Aleksandra (13:39):

Well, I wouldn’t wait until the end of the interview to know how they feel about me at all. Cause it’s gone by then. So, throughout the interview, I would be making sure that we’re all on the same wavelength, connection. You want to hire me. I want to work for you. all the time I would be tapping in and having a good relationship. So I would kind of know through that, whether it’s, yay or nay.

Elliott (14:02):

You’ll talk to us about the nonverbal cues here or.

Aleksandra (14:04):

Oh, verbal and nonverbal, because you would want to get their feedback throughout the interview. So if you know that you’re going down a road, that’s not really that welcome. You’d bring it back so that you don’t have to wait until the end of interview at the end of the interview, you’re just giving it a little bit extra and closing the deal. You’re not asking for feedback. Do you think I’m going to be hired? You are hired by that stage. Hopefully all you’re doing is just saying, I’m definitely hired by giving you that extra and then you can happily walk up and you don’t have to worry about, you know, feedback or I don’t know. I just think if you’re not right for the job just don’t apply.

Elliott (14:36):


Aleksandra (14:37):

I mean, I wouldn’t apply for things that I don’t think of. You know, you got to feel it it’s like a relationship. The job is really personal. Only go for the ones that you know, you want it.

Elliott (14:47):

Yeah. I think that’s why most of us spend a large proportion of our lives in our workplaces form or another. So we’ve got to make sure…

Aleksandra (14:55):

Be selective, only go for that thing that you feel it. And you’re like, “yeah”, because that motivates you to give a brilliant interview. If you’re not motivated, get it. You will not get that.

Elliott (15:06):

Yeah. That’s a good way of looking at. And then once you’ve got the interview, it’s like, you’re saying, give it your all

Aleksandra (15:11):

Once you’re through that door, you’re in the right attitude. You’re motivated, you’re prepared. You’re Hired! “Not fired” you’re the one hiring. Hopefully not fired yeah.

Aleksandra (15:26):

If you have any questions like you want to send me a little, a clip of yourself and how you would, you know, little test questions. You’re welcome to do that too. And I can feedback and Elliott can feedback.

Elliott (15:36):

Wow. That’s a pretty amazing offer. And where should they send that to?

Aleksandra (15:41):

Post a little comment and then we can get in touch with email. And if you don’t want the whole world to see your little clip; Just email it to us.

Elliott (15:49):

There you go. Okay. Thank you very much and goodbye and see you again next time.

Aleksandra (15:54):

Yeah. Hope you found that useful. Have a good day.

Aleksandra (15:57):

And that concludes today’s episode. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. And if you have, do subscribe to get subsequent episodes automatically in the meantime, if you’d like to find out more about digital marketing, please visit Thanks so much for joining us and see you again soon.

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