So you've landed an interview for your dream job in fashion – congratulations! The fashion industry is worth billions of pounds, with a wide range of exciting careers available including fashion design, merchandising, marketing and more. Whatever niche role you're applying for, the fashion industry is highly competitive – so you've got to bring your A-game to the interview.
How should you prepare for your interview?
1. Develop some transferable skills through work experience
All work experience is valuable but the more relevant your experience, the more impressed your interviewer will be, with jobs in retail being some of the most directly relevant student jobs. Before you go to an interview, think about the transferable skills and competencies you're likely to need in the job you are applying for – and find examples from your work experience that match this.
Whether you need to show that you understand customer shopping habits, or demonstrate your communication skills and sales savvy, always back up your examples with solid evidence using statistics where possible, e.g. 'I increased sales by 20% whilst in my role as a customer assistant'. The STAR technique is a very useful method for structuring your answers.
"What projects did you work on?"
"Tell me about a time when you demonstrated X, Y & Z skills?"
"What was the outcome?"
2. Don't just talk about your 'passion for fashion' - demonstrate it
The fashion industry attracts a lot of candidates who are passionate about their craft – so to stand out from crowd, you'll need to actively show your interest in fashion with real-life examples at an interview.
If you already work in the fashion industry, that's great – but if you don't yet, you can create your own opportunities. For example, you could set up a charity fashion show or start writing about fashion brands you like on a blog. If you're looking to get into design, you'll almost always need a portfolio of work – before your interview make sure this is slick and updated to your most recent standard of work so you're showcasing your current level of skill.
'Why have you applied for this job?'
'What makes you the best candidate for this job?'
3. Immerse yourself in the fashion industry
Don't just buy products from fashion brands you like; follow those brands on social media, learn about their latest commercial ventures. Sign up to industry newsletters to keep afloat of the latest fashion news, and be ready to talk about your prospective employers' business as well as their competitors. See what other people are saying about your future employer on review sites and blogs. All of this will prepare you for answering any questions about the company, including the products and services they offer. You may even be asked what the company is currently doing well and what you would improve, so be prepared to share your ideas.
“What are the challenges facing our company?”
“What are the major issues affecting the industry at the moment, or likely to in the near future?”
“Who are our major competitors?”
“How do we differentiate ourselves from our competitors?”
4. Do some digging on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is not only useful for researching brands and businesses, it's also a great professional networking tool. If you know who will be interviewing you before the big day, don't be afraid to look them up on LinkedIn. Learning a little about what your interviewer does in their role day-to-day will not only give you insight into your future role, but you may also learn something about how they got to the position they are in now – all useful information to help shape your future career path. Don't add them on LinkedIn quite yet though – save this for when you are working alongside them later down the line!
5. Be prepared to ask smart questions
At some point during your interview there'll be time for you to ask questions – and it's your chance to shine. Don't just ask what everyone else will be asking, like "What's the company culture like?", "How will my career progress?" etc. - now is your opportunity to show that you've done your research. For example, "I noticed that in [campaign name] you did [example]. Is this something that you will be building on?". Or perhaps, "I've seen that [competitor] has launched [campaign] – is this something your brand will be looking to do in future?". You'll subtly impress your interviewer with your ideas and commercial acumen – after all, for all its chic trends and exciting innovations, the fashion industry is business-driven and you should treat it as such.
Currently in charge of Candidate Engagement Marketing at Milkround, Chantelle Barton has worked in the graduate recruitment industry for the last three years, and has experience working in a start-up environment. Drop her a line on firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a chat.