Career Talk

/ 3 years ago /

 Article by Jessica Murray

Tim Campbell, first ever winner of The Apprentice, joins the #FightForFeedback

Since its launch back in June, the Fight For Feedback campaign has become a major talking point and made national news. Following the submission of our White Paper to Government, entrepreneur and The Apprentice winner Tim Campbell appeared on Sky News to discuss the importance of quality interview feedback. We caught up with him to find out about his own interview experiences and the importance of education when it comes to the Fight For Feedback.

During your interview at Sky News, you said that this is not an opportunity for government to intervene but rather a call to action for employers. Why do you think this?

What we need right now is not more government intervention, but instead we need better careers education for our young people, and better education for employers on the benefits of providing candidates with quality feedback.

We just need a stronger dialogue between recruiters and candidates to help our young people reach their full potential. It really is in the best interests of businesses to provide candidates with feedback after an interview, we just need to emphasise the benefits more. With candidate experience being so important to employers, the Fight For Feedback campaign is great as it lays out a roadmap that companies can easily follow.

What do you think employers should be doing to introduce better quality feedback to their employees and how can they implement it effectively?

I don’t think you can implement a hard and fast rule for all businesses, as every organisation works in a different way. It’s just all about communication and fairness. As long as companies are respectfully providing their candidates with the adequate feedback that will help them go on and secure another role, that’s all that matters.

Of course, it’s also important that companies are educated on what constitutes quality feedback, which is why the Fight For Feedback campaign is so important. These new guiding principles are a really comprehensive overview of what good feedback should look like. Constructive and positive, directly from the interviewer, and the length of time employers are expected to invest in it. Talking about feedback can be quite vague and abstract, but the white paper you created is really specific in its recommendations, which is great.

Which one of the recommendations brought forward in the white paper do you think is the most important to act on?

I think making the feedback positive and constructive is really important. That doesn’t mean it can’t be tough. Lord Sugar is really tough on the contestants in The Apprentice. But it provides direction and guidance that can be acted upon. Sometimes being too nice and polite is the worst thing you can do – if you don’t let the candidate know where they went wrong, how are they going to improve? It’s a difficult balance to strike but I think the Fight For Feedback campaign is making progress towards educating employers on how to do this, which is positive.

How do you provide feedback to the candidates that you interview?

It’s important to take the time out to prepare feedback for individuals – by going into the interview with this intention, you tend to take effective notes, in order to prepare for the feedback stage. Sadly, the reality is that having enough time to feedback direct to the interviewee is often a luxury for time-poor managers, and it is a task that is delegated to a member of the HR team. When I can take the time to feedback myself, I always do, as I agree with the Fight for Feedback’s guiding principles regarding the power of verbal feedback – it’s great because it allows the candidate to ask questions and to share feedback too. One-way feedback, such as via email, is nowhere near as effective in terms of development for both parties.

From a business perspective, why is candidate feedback a smart move for companies?

Everyone a business engages with, at every level, should be considered as an important stakeholder – from the CEO to the cleaner, everyone should come away feeling respected. Although a candidate might not be successful at an entry level interview, they might use that interview feedback to go away and get another job, and come back a few years later for a more senior role. It’s such a small thing to do but it can have a huge impact.

Employers are also starting to see how important it is to maintain a good reputation among students and graduates, so they’re able to attract the best talent. Quality feedback leaves a good impression amongst students, who will go on to believe it is a good place to work. For employers, it’s a win-win.

In your Sky News interview you also mentioned the importance of better education in careers and development for young people. When should this take place?

It’s the role of schools and colleges to educate young people about the career paths available to them. Education in school is often so focused on getting students into university, rather than giving them the skills they need to make it on the job market or set up their own business, and I think that needs to change. Feedback is part of the problem, but young people should be learning about this before they leave education if they’re to get the best start.

Young people need to learn how to sell their skillset to an employer, and how to prepare for interviews effectively. A lot of people have the knowledge and experience, but just don’t know how to demonstrate that well in a face-to-face interview. I know a lot of universities have careers centres, but many students don’t go on to university and don’t have access to those resources. For those people, education about starting careers is most important if they’re to go out there and be a success.

Have you had any particularly bad interview experiences? We all saw you getting grilled in the interview round of The Apprentice, how did you find that?

Although the interview was quite a nerve-wracking experience, I actually found it one of the easiest tasks out of all those on the show! During an interview you just have to rely on yourself and your experiences, as opposed to a wider team of people, so I felt a lot more in control of the situation. The interviewers are obviously tough and try to catch you out as much as possible, it’s part of the theatre of the show, but I think I managed to keep my cool. I’d coached people professionally how to perform during interviews in the past, so I had experience in how to handle myself and how to focus on my skills and my propensity to learn quickly.

In that interview, the main battle you faced was a lack of commercial experience. What advice would you give to a candidate interviewing for a job with little previous experience?

I think it’s important to be open and acknowledge the fact that you don’t have the level of experience that might be expected. On The Apprentice, I had far less commercial experience than some of those I was up against, but I held my hands up, admitted it and said I was prepared to learn. You have to let the employer see your personality and work ethic, because if you have the right attitude you can succeed at whatever you set your mind to, regardless of a lack of experience.

Focus on the things you have done, because something which might appear a small achievement to someone else might have been a huge step for you, so emphasise your successes and the skills you used to achieve them. Just don’t give up, everyone has to start somewhere!

The most important thing to note is that if you have made it to the interview, they see something in you. The interview is your chance to show them more of that and give them confidence that you can bring more to the table than may be evident on your CV or application form.

You came from quite a tough background, and had to work hard to get to the position you’re in now. How important was feedback and guidance in your journey?

On The Apprentice we were all treated the same regardless of background, but of course the feedback and advice I received on the show and from Lord Sugar in the future were crucial in helping me get where I am now.

This is why I set up the Bright Ideas Trust; I wanted to give young people from disadvantaged backgrounds the support network they need to achieve their goals so they have a solid foundation to succeed regardless of where they started from. Interview feedback is the same kind of thing. I think especially for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, that kind of guidance is essential in personal development as they may not be surrounded by peers or parents who can help them.

The Fight For Feedback campaign will have an impact on the lives of many young people out there, and I’m excited to see that happen.

You can follow the progress of the Fight For Feedback campaign here, and don’t forget to sign our petition if you haven’t already. Let’s show the government why the Fight For Feedback is so important, and make the recruitment industry a fairer process for all.

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Image via PA.

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