Unexpectedly Intriguing!
12 May 2005

It’s the second to last episode of the third season of “The Apprentice,” which only means one thing: it’s time for the interviews from hell.

Here’s the scenario: three job candidates enter Donald Trump’s version of Interview Thunderdome, and only two will leave to go on to compete in the show’s final event management task. In between the candidates and success lays a gauntlet of “inquisitors” “interrogators” “interviewers” who have no other reason for being on the show other than to drill the applicants with questions, searching to create a fissure through which they might feed. Suzanne Condie Lambert notes the tenor of the interviews in her weekly episode wrap-up:

Craig, Tana and Kendra face a series of corporate honchos, who ask probing questions like: "Why should Trump hire you?" "Who among your competitors wouldn't you hire?" And "What is the average air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?"

Sure, it’s fun to think about it when you watch others go through it, but what if it was you? How should you deal with the interview from hell?

To answer the question, we turn to the Job Fairy, who notes from her own records of a real-life interview from hell that what you hear from the interviewers in the form, content and tone of their questions is really saying a lot about their company. Here’s a short excerpt from the Job Fairy’s weblog:

The interviewee learned unbelievable amounts about the dynamics of the company from the way they were treated in the interview. The interviewee learned that the client company does not promote from within. This made the current employees jumpy, as they could not expect to rise through the ranks. The interviewee also learned that newcomers were seen as a threat to those that were already entrenched.… The interviewee also realized that they would not have any meaningful rapport with their peers, should they ever be hired. This atmosphere of mutual distrust would also prevent any unwelcome coalitions from forming that might threaten the position of the hiring manager. Yes, this interview was quite an experience; among the worst the interviewee had ever endured. The interviewee certainly learned more from it than they had ever bargained on.

It’s worth reading the entire article, as this short excerpt of its conclusion doesn’t do it justice.

Now, “The Apprentice” is as much about entertainment as it is about getting through a difficult job interview - we can enjoy the performance of the Apprentici when they get grilled by professionals, and are judged by it. It should come as no surprise to the show’s viewers who Donald Trump fired following the interviews:

Craig's impersonation of a water-deprived goldfish makes his inevitable sacking the least-shocking firing since Shannen Doherty "quit" Beverly Hills, 90210.

I’m going to miss Ms. Lambert’s "Tales from ‘The Apprentice'" column when the show’s season is finished.


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