I figured if “The Apprentice” reality show with Donald Trump is mandatory
viewing for MBA students at Harvard, then I would probably be entertained and
learn something as well – so I watch it.
One week’s episode was a real lesson in how to interview for effect, with
rapid fire questions and retorts flying back and forth at break neck speed! I
was surprised at the overall message I gleaned from watching Trump’s assistants
interview four apprentices. One would expect that such a high profile icon of
American success would be impressed by “the deal”, intellect, wit, knowledge and
expertise, and he is. But, his true mantras, which he really seemed to take
ownership of were as follows:
- • The quality of the interview is more important than what you say.
• Energy is not always outwardly shown, so be prepared to explain how it
manifests itself for you if that is the case. (This is a life line truism for
• An interviewer needs a reason to put you forward, to select you for the
position, to vouch for you – give them one.
• Being a great person is more important than being intelligent or having
• Make sure the interviewer walks away feeling they know you, that you have
shared enough of your accomplishments and something of your values that they can
make an educated decision.
• Know what motivates you and be sure to share it – make sure it comes across
in the interview, show some passion, commitment and drive.
• Be confident but not intimidating or come off too strong.
• When in a leadership role, give examples of how you have surrounded
yourself with people who go out of their way to push through new ideas.
• Always tell the truth.
• Be prepared to give a description of the company being applied to and how
it operates, and how you fit into all this.
• Know your weaknesses and how to effectively answer this question – without
telling a story! (save your stories for accomplishments)
• Be visionary, look ahead – be prepared to describe what you would do on day
1 in your new position.
• Whether a man or a woman, respond authentically to whether you would hire a
woman to work for you and why you are comfortable with that. (I’ll add an
experienced worker to that question as well.)
• Crying is not condoned in a business environment! There is little room for
emotions at work.
• This one really threw me for a loop – when in business, don’t play
• Don’t use sex appeal to get ahead, but all the same, men are the victims of
massive sex appeal all the time. Some women certainly can use it and others just
• Perform professionally and at your very best in front of important people
in the company. (I suggest you do this all the time.)
Trump spoke of surrounding yourself with loyal people. Remember those days,
when we were loyal and our companies were too? It is sadly so very difficult to
find true employer/employee loyalty today and where at one time, time built
trust and loyalty, today it seems to be doing the opposite – the more I work for
you or with you the less I like you!
Bottom line? Be interesting, be sincere, don’t push too hard but do stand up
for yourself and what you believe, and be likeable and loyal. In the words of
famed interview coach Brian Bassett of Bassett Communication Clinics, “practice,
Career Specialist & Corporate Trainer
Author of Networking: How to Build
Relationships That Count and
How to Get a Job and Keep It
The Power of Mentorship: Visibility Networking