Last night was the semi-final of “The Apprentice” in the UK, where the contestants’ business plans are put under the microscope and each contestant undergoes a series of intense interviews with Alan Sugar’s henchmen and henchwomen. It’s the round that has viewers cringing as each contestant is routinely pulled apart and generally humiliated.

I found myself cringing too, but not because of the distinctly naïve responses put forward by each of the contestants, but instead by the interviewing techniques employed by each of the interviewers. The interviewers were unfriendly, aggressive and tried to trip up the candidates at every hurdle. Yes I know it’s for TV viewing entertainment, but something tells me that, back in the 90s, that’s the exact process you would have had to endure to get a job at Alan Sugar’s Amstrad.

These days, competition for employees is becoming fierce and employers are having to become more and more creative to find great talent. Talented employees will want to pick and choose which companies they work for, based on a number of different criteria. A good company culture will be high on the tick list and candidates coming for an interview at your company will judge your company culture based on the people interviewing them and their experience during the interview process. 

Potential employees now have  some great tools to find out about your company before deciding whether to apply for a position there. One such tool is Glassdoor, where users can access reviews of the interviews that other candidates have had with your company. Each interview review is classified as either a “Positive experience” or a “Negative experience”. If every interview your company conducts is along the lines of The Apprentice interviews, you can be fairly sure that the reviews would reflect your company very poorly, most likely putting off the best candidates from applying.

Interviews should be an effective way to identify the best candidates, but interviewees should be treated well and, even if they don’t get offered a position, they should come away from the interview with a positive feeling about your company. If you’re not already doing it, you should be asking all candidates, both successful and unsuccessful, for feedback on their interview and setting organizational goals around achieving high levels of positive feedback.

A survey of 4000 candidates by CareerBuilder found that 22% of candidates with a poor interview experience at a prospective company would tell others not to apply for a job there, while 9% would actively dissuade others from buying their products. Conversely, 37% of candidates with a positive interview experience would encourage others to apply for a position there and 23% would be more likely to purchase products from that company.

To ensure a candidate leaves the interview with a positive experience, your interviewing managers should:

  1. Ensure that every candidate that applies for a position at your company is responded to, even if they are not accepted for interview. 82% of workers expect to hear back from a company that they apply to, regardless of whether the employer is interested.
  2. Communicate clearly the role being offered and be sufficiently knowledgeable to answer questions the candidate may have.
  3. Treat the candidate with respect. In fact, treat them like customers.
  4. Exhibit high levels of humility and avoid adopting an interview style akin to “The Apprentice”.
  5. Ensure that interviewees are responded to as quickly as possible with a decision, even if they are not offered the job. 60% of unsuccessful candidates report never being informed.

 Candidates are forming an opinion on your company from the moment they see the job ad, so make sure that, at the end of the interview process, regardless of whether they are offered the position, they leave with a positive experience and become a promoter for your company.

Simon Bates is CEO of Workteam, an HR Management System for businesses of all sizes with a focus on growing employee engagement. Visit to find out how it can benefit your organization.