Fashion Retail Jobs, How to Apply & What to Expect at Interview by Collette Costello – Surviving a Career in Fashion

When I was sixteen to get my first job in a shop I had eight interviews in total, they included group interviews which I was rubbish at and at times I felt like cattle being herded in and out of rooms with loads of other people fighting for the same jobs.  The positive was I knew what to expect after a while, all the interviews were the same and after that I found it really easy to get jobs at interviews, so don’t let it get you down.

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To start make a list of the fashion retail shops you would like to work in, if you are into trendy fashion, places like Victoria Secrets or more into sportswear think the Adidas shop.  The shops you usually shop in are best, as they more likely to employ people that can relate to their customers and you are probably their target audience.

Most shops now advertise retail shop jobs on their own web-sites, the types of jobs you can do include:

Shop Assistant/ Sales Advisor – To find out more about this role check out my blog post “Working in a Fashion Shop Retail Job, What is it Like?”.

Visual Merchandiser – Making sure the shop is correctly laid out, head office have strict instructions that clothes are going on the right rails, you may also do the mannequins and shop window displays.

Personal Shopper/ Stylist – Working with a customer to put together clothes, outfits that suit their needs, such as something to wear for a wedding.

To apply usually you will select the job you want to do, make sure you look if it is part-time or full-time, ensure if needed you can work evenings or weekends.  Sometimes you will be asked to up-load a CV which will be added to a application form or you will fill it in from scratch.  To learn more about what to include in a CV, check out my blog post “How to On-line Fashion CV”.

Must Haves – Job Specification

When you first start applying for jobs its is hard to know what to write, especially if you have never had a job before.  When a job is advertised they will have a list of must have skills or the posh word job specification.  You should go through each of the skills required and write what you can offer.  If you have never worked before think of  work placements you had in school or college, or any outside activities such as dance classes you may take part in.


Preparing for Interview and What to Wear!

Often after an interview you will be told you did not get the job as “you need more experience”, that old problem “how do I get more experience if I need more to get it!!!!”.  For shop jobs usually they will tell you this however usually this is not the real reason you did not get the job, they are often willing to give people a chance if they come across as positive, confident and care about their appearance, so be prepared by following my advice below.

  • You will get an invite to interview via e-mail or phone-call, check the address as it may not be held at the shop you have applied too.
  • Make sure to plan to get your interview an hour early, you will lose the job if you are late.
  • The interview maybe alone or more popular these days are group interviews, so always make sure you ask as group interviews can last two hours.
  • Dress in clothes sold by the shop, it shows you are interested in what they sell and that you shop there.
  • When you arrive at the interview make sure you act positive, happy, smile at the interviewers, ensure you look them in the eyes throughout and hold your head-up high.
  • Never, ever complain about your previous employer, it makes you, not them look bad.
  • Group interviews are designed to test your confidence, some people are not great in big groups and that is fine, the more practise you have the better you get.

What to Expect at Fashion Retail Interview

You will arrive at the interview, check-in at reception and asked to wait outside the room.  The ten minutes before the interview I always think are the worst bit, read your CV or if they have an information about the company lying, around read that so you can seem knowledgeable in your interview.

Typical Interview Questions

  • Tell me about yourself, three things about yourself?
  • Why do you want to work at this shop?
  • Why do you want this job, what is this job?
  • When are you free to work, weekends, evenings?
  • Will you cover shifts if some else is ill, can we ring you on the day?
  • Have you worked in a shop before, what experience do you have?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • Have you worked in a team, what was it and how did you help?
  • Where do you see yourself in the future, five years time?

Shop Assistant Interview Questions

  • What makes good customer service and can you give an example?
  • If a customer finds clothing on a mannequin that she can’t find, how do you help?

  • A customer wants a size you don’t have in stock, what do you do?
  • A customer wants a flowery dress, your shop does not sell them, what do you do?

Fashion stuff you may also have to do!

  • Put an outfit together or offer an alternative to an item they show you.
  • Sell a pair of shoes or a piece of clothing to a customer.
  • Deal with an angry customer who wants to return something, in role play.
  • Help to pack a customers shopping at the tills.

Group Interviews

Group interviews are very intimidating, unless you are one of them rare naturally confident people.  Remember everyone is nervous, make sure you start talking to at least one other person who is being interviewed, it makes you look and feel more confident.

What will happen?

  • You may have to ask another group member questions about themselves and introduce them to the group.
  • Take part in silly games, do team building tasks to show you can get on with other people.
  • Answer questions addressed to the whole group, to show you are willing to put your yourself forward.
  • As a group answer an interview question about customer services, present your answers back the rest of the room.

Whenever I have an interview I will always go through the questions I expect them to ask by writing my answers down and getting a friend to ask me them as practise.  You will always get a question you are unable to answer, if this happens just say honestly I am unsure of the answer but willing to learn.

Congratulations interview over, you now have the job:) If only it was that easy, if not ask for reasons why and try, try again!!  Remember I endured eight interviews before my first job so don’t give up!  To find out more about working in fashion check out the rest of my blog section “Surviving a Career in Fashion”.








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