Claude Littner is best known as the mercilessly tough interviewer on the BBC’s award-winning The Apprentice. His abrupt style and zero-tolerance policy on nonsense have become the highlights of every series. In this extract from his new book Single-Minded: My Life In Business, Claude shares his tops tips for putting together a perfect CV and getting your interview technique spot on.
I have conducted countless interviews, both on and off screen, and people often ask how I assess the CVs. At the base level, I look for gaps and inconsistencies, becoming suspicious if there are any unexplained periods. I am incredulous when a fairly junior individual claims to have completed a multi-million-pound deal, when in reality he was, at best, part of a team, or more likely the bag carrier.
In short, I like a well- presented document with a positive outlook and honest content.
The covering letter to the target company should indicate that the applicant has a genuine interest in, and some knowledge of, the company, and that his qualifications and experience are a good fit for the advertised job.
Having said all that, nothing beats the interview itself, and, if you are in a position to be granted an interview, it is imperative that you get it right. Arriving on time is essential, as is dressing appropriately. Make eye contact and give a firm handshake, whilst taking your cue from the interviewer as to how formal the proceedings will be.
Answers to questions must not be monosyllabic, but, by the same token, not overly long and monotonous. It is important to be yourself, but on a really good day.
If asked at the end of the interview if you have any questions, do not ask how many days holiday you are entitled to, but try and pick up on an interesting point from the
interview, or, better still, have a question already prepared.
Finally, you need to leave the interviewer in no doubt that this is the job opportunity you really want, and are more than capable of fulfilling.