Surviving a Fashion Interview, How to get a Fashion Job by Collette Costello – Surviving a Career in Fashion Series

My first fashion interview was at a clothing manufacturers in Manchester called Karpelle for the job of Junior Garment Technician, bizarrely I walked in and meet a manager, she took one look at me and said “Oh I thought you would be Italian” in a disappointed voice due to my name being Collette Costello, it was all a bit awkward after then and I did not get the job.  Having just left university new to the world of interviews for full-time fashion jobs I was really demoralised after that, believed if they would not employ me no one would.  After that it was months before I tried to get a job in fashion again, believing I had nothing to offer.  Now older, wiser and more experienced, I realised I could easily have done that job, I should just have learned from the experience and just tried again.

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Interview Top Tips

  • Genuine Passion – Be genuinely interested in fashion.
  • Dress the Part – Try to fit in with the fashion brand.
  • Get Digital – Bring your portfolio on a laptop or have it on-line.
  • Try, Try Again – Keep going until you get the dream job.

I have had so many interviews now they are usually all the same, so to do well at an fashion interview below are few rules to follow before the interview as you will be asked questions about these areas.  A full-time job in fashion will usually be you in front of a panel of people, managers and maybe HR assistant.  Usually you will be asked to show your portfolio first if it’s a design related job and then asked a series of questions.

Job Specification/ What you will do! – Read the job specification, make sure for each point you are able to give an example of how you can offer that skills.  Make sure you know what the job is that you are going to be doing, if you don’t know the wage look for an average pay scale on-line for that position.  I got an interview in fashion, when I got there found out they made bullet proof vests, so do your research.

Fashion Company Knowledge/ Industry Trends – Make sure you are up to date on what the company you are working for does and what is going on in the fashion industry at the moment.  Ensure you know who their target audience is and what style they are into.

Read your own CV – They always ask you about your work experience, so make sure you are up-to-date with your own CV, have no gaps in your work or education history even if you did not pass.  Once at an interview I was asked if I had been in jail due to a small gap in my work history, sure it was a joke but it did put me off.

Design Portfolio – Prepare your portfolio on a lap-top or if you are old-skool in a folder.  See my blog post, “Creating a Great Fashion Portfolio” in my Surviving a Career in Fashion Series for tips on how to put a portfolio together for interview.  

Other General Interview Questions

  • Tell me about yourself, three things about yourself?
  • Why do you want to work at this company?
  • Why do you want this job, what is this job?
  • When are you free to work, can start?
  • How much pay, salary are you looking for?
  • Have you worked in fashion before, what experience do you have?
  • Why are you leaving your old job?
  • 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?

Fashion Boss from Hell?

Remember if you don’t want a boss like in “The Devil Wears Prada”, when you go for an interview you are also interviewing them.  I have also been on the other side interviewing staff for jobs, interns and students for courses.  First thing is I have always treated people with respect and you deserve to be treated that way, if you are made to feel uncomfortable in an interview that is wrong and question if you actually want to work there.

Why Did I Not Get the Job?

People in interviews sometimes do not get the job for loads of reasons that are nothing to do with them, so remember this.  Always ask for feedback, it can help you improve in an area for your next interview.  When I have asked for feed back once in a teaching job I was actually told they had already invited someone in who they wanted to give the job and that was why I did not get it; by the way this is illegal!

Bad mouthing at interviews never goes down well, so never, ever be negative about your old or current employer when asked about them.  I interviewed for an intern to join my company once, she told me how she knew someone who had worked with me and then went onto tell me lots of negative things this person had said about me, she did add at the end, I did not believe her though, not a great thing to say to someone interviewing you.

More Interview Don’ts

  • Not having an answer.
  • Not knowing the job/ pay scale.
  • Missing qualification certificates.
  • Being late or missing portfolio.

To learn more about working in fashion, jobs and careers, check out the rest of my blog section “Surviving a Career in Fashion”.

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