Week Eleven: The Apprentice analysed...
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In the penultimate episode of The Apprentice the candidates were put through four gruelling interviews with the aim of uncovering any CV-related skeletons in their work history closets.
Sir Alan’s crack team of interviewers, including Herbert Smith litigation partner Alan Watts, tried their best to grind the candidates down, finding fault after fault in their CVs and identifying their weak spots.
In the end Sir Alan carried out a boardroom cull, firing James, Lorraine and Debra.
Our panel of employment lawyers give their views on the employment issues thrown up in the episode.
By Adam Landy, associate at Stevens & Bolton
Watching the candidates squirm their way through interview week is always the week most eagerly anticipated by employment lawyers and last night’s show did not disappoint. After the exposure of Lee McQueen’s embarrassing CV embellishment last year, surely this year’s hopefuls would have learned their lesson?
It seemed not. Lorraine’s ten years in the corporate wilderness was the least of her worries when Karen Brady spotted that she had exaggerated the duration of her most recent role by a year. A slip of the pen or straight forward misrepresentation? She attempted to run a typo argument; however, her integrity was too far blown. Coupled with previous warnings for rubbing people up the wrong way, Sir Alan showed little remorse when giving her the boot.
Meanwhile, Yasmina stepped into the firing line brimming with confidence. She was soon squirming though, as it transpired that there were ‘mistakes’ on her CV too, but it seemed that these were due to incompetence rather than being pre-meditated. Surely, an inability to differentiate gross and net profit is a pre-requisite for the £100k role?
Sir Alan may have felt that this was a performance issue rather than misconduct and gave her the nod for the final.
By Juliet Bawtree, solicitor at Withers
As ever the interview round - or rather exit interview by firing squad - delivered, breaking through the bluster by using tried and tested recruitment tools combined with less common gruelling interrogation techniques.
First in the firing line was so-called joker James who learned that transposing favourite one liners into a CV does not make a good first impression.
Gifted single mother Lorraine revealed that she hit the glass ceiling of the sales world after having children, shattering her self esteem beyond repair. Her 12 months CV ‘typo’ didn’t help matters in this selection process either.
Ruthless Debra’s downfall was brutal references, which gave the unsurprising view that she is unmanageable. Despite questionable latitude for her youth, which could have put Sir Alan at risk of disadvantaging the older candidates, Britain’s most belligerent boss at last concluded Debra was more trouble than she is worth. Maybe he was protecting himself against a potential flood of staff grievances.
The remaining two candidates didn’t survive completely unscathed, although robotic Kate was unfazed by a discriminatory line of questioning over her emotional involvement with Philip. Maybe she’ll exercise the Equality Bill’s positive action on recruitment if she ever experiences her worst nightmare of working in an all women team?
Yasmina also made it, passing off her gross profit and turnover CV misrepresentations as mere mathematical error/misunderstanding. Stating that she set up her own business because she didn’t want to make money for someone else saw her score an own goal and sparked the question of why she wants Sir Alan’s job.
Maybe she’s gambling on short-term fame in return for commitment to what will inevitably be short-term employment? Have any of the previous Apprentices ever lasted a year? It’s unlikely that Sir Alan is mindful of the 12-month qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims and more likely that his expensive recruits decide the six-figure salary is insufficient remuneration for this sidekick role.
By Homa Wilson, solicitor at Russell Jones & Walker
It seems that a CV has to read like a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) wrestler’s press-release: big claims, tall stories and plenty of attitude. Fudged figures, incorrect employment dates, and scathing references all seem to be topics for discussion, rather than disqualifiers. We all remember last year when Lee clearly lied on his CV, but still won his role as The Apprentice.
And, while each CV had a photo attached, none of the candidates bothered to object to having their photo taken on the grounds that looks were non-essential to the role.
More issues were highlighted when Kate expressed her aversion to working in all-female teams. By not highlighting this as being unacceptable, did the interviewer do enough to preserve the integrity of Sir Alan’s empire and demonstrate adherence to existing legislation? There is a misconception on the part of both parties that because she is a woman, it excuses her from holding such opinions.
By Alan Nicholson, senior associate at McGrigors
You’ve got an interview for your dream job. Helpfully, you have four years’ worth of video footage of your interviewer in action. You know he’s a stickler for detail, he’ll check your statistics and contact your referees. So you’d get your CV right, wouldn’t you? Me too. That’s why we’re not on The Apprentice.
With Yasmina apparently cooking the books of her restaurant business, and Lorraine exaggerating her length of service, The Apprentice may have a problem with dishonest applicants. Mind you, Lorraine doesn’t know what day it is, never mind when she started her last job, and I’d wager that the only turnover Yasmina is familiar with has apple in the middle.
Many female interviewees share Lorraine’s concerns about how employers will react to gaps in employment due to pregnancy and maternity leave. This time it was the interviewers who were concerned about sex discrimination, when Kate revealed she’d struggle to work in an all-female team.
If James had been the one talking about womankind’s alleged tendency to “whinge and moan”, he’d surely have blown his chance of getting the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s factory. Of course, he didn’t need any help in doing that, and it’s Kate and Yasmina who will be contesting the final over a box of chocolates. May the best woman win.