The Perfect Interview
Get ready, what to do before the interview
– Research the company; if the job is connected to retail in any way make sure you visit one of their stores and undertake a “comparative” shop. Look at the store layout, prime footage, selling mats, promotional activity. Go to the library and review current news and find out the hard facts of the companies performance, sales turnover, profit margins et al and if you can review a copy of the latest company financial results make sure your read the director’s notes at the start of the report. There are always gems of information in there! Review the companies aims for the future too and competitors.
– Do you need to give a presentation? If you don’t know then ask the question first with HR and then get prepared and demonstrate how you have researched the company in this presentation. Ask what facilitates they will have at the interview to ensure you can effectively show your presentation.
– Keep at the back of your mind that interview skills are not the same as the skills you need for the job you are going for. Some people are naturally good at interviewing. They may be nervous but they can hide their nerves and if you are one of those people that do get nervous, work on your interview skills. Remember when there is a panel of people interviewing to address each one in the eye. Many people start talking to the dominant person on the panel (a common fault) so train yourself to look, and smile, at each of the people interviewing you. Don’t over elaborate a point, keep your answers direct, don’t rush your answers and practice in front of a mirror any points you wish to bring across.
– Another question to ask HR before the interview is what kind of interview techniques are used e.g. “competency based” interviews a re now common. Previously there used to be a strong emphasis on behaviour to predict future performance.
– If you want to get real information the best people to speak to are the people employed in the company themselves. Look at the company website and see if there is a section on employees there where names are mentioned and job roles. You can always try and contact the person in the department you are trying to be employed by for some additional information. It certainly shows you are doing your market research and you’re keen! This is within reason however.
– Ask HR who is going to be interviewing you and then give them a quick Google. It’s a known fact that people like people who have similar interests and hobbies. Build that rapport from the very beginning.
– With so many graduates leaving fashion related courses you need to demonstrate that you are unique and have extra qualities to make you “special”; what team experiences can you draw upon, what have you done over and above your course? This is where
http://www.fashioncapital.co.uk/ can really help you – put up an interview or an article on the website and let the world see how proactive you have been. FashionCapital is now ranked 12th in the world for the word Fashion on Google so look at the potential audience that can see your name! To take advantage of this just contact email@example.com and we will guide you accordingly.
– Use your career centres at your Uni! You can practice your interview techniques here and get interview advice, role-play and mock up interviews.
– Review sites on the web that can help you with your styles and techniques e.g. http://www.bemyinterviewer.co.uk/ offers techniques such as video interviews with real employers. You can listen to the questions, review your answers and even get the employer to help you answer that question the right way.
– Many fashion related students will have a Look Book with them to review their work with the potential employee but also take a portfolio with you that shows your achievements and extra curriculum work. If you have secured part time work during your course get your employee to write a letter of recommendation about you; ask customers for quotes, review of you by your lecturers etc.
– What to wear – now there’s a dilemma for any fashion graduate. I know of some graduates who have visited the place of interview and watched staff going in and out of the front doors clocking the right dress code! And it worked! Make sure you feel comfortable and confident in your chosen outfit of the day however and as its fashion make that statement about you and let your personality shine through…within reason of course.
– Your sales pitch – before the big day what exactly is your sales pitch – why should you get that job? Practice talking about you and your achievements to date with an emphasis about being individual but also being a strong team leader. All companies need team players so don’t underestimate the importance of demonstrating how well you fit within a team environment.
– Get the facts before you go to the interview – ask for a job description from HR, find out about salaries and holiday entitlements and also about travel and where you will be located.
– Finally also remember that employers will research you too – with many networking sites now available you too may be Googled so make sure you have nothing to be ashamed of on any of the sites.
Steady at the interview
– Keep those nerves steady! If you are feeling nervous with your stomach churning and your hands sweaty then try to ride it through with a confident smile and direct answers. If you start to stutter and you feel awkward there is nothing wrong in saying sorry I feel very nervous! This can soften the interviewers no end. It’s good to show honesty.
– Look out for body language. By being observant this will also help to tackle your nerves too. Stop thinking I really need this job and start thinking they really need me. The interviewer wants to find the right person for the job and remember people normally like people who mirror themselves. Pick up on comments made by the interviewer themselves and extend those comments further. Matching those interviewers mannerisms is also often done by the savvy interviewee e.g. if they lean forward to talk (showing interest) then you do the same; sitting there with your arms folded is not going to go down well. Sit upright but not uptight. Don’t slouch and make sure when you enter that room you are smiling and walking confidently to your designated seat.
– Get prepared before they start asking the questions – get your files out on the table ready for review. Have your CV ready to give out and make sure you have brought copies too for the panel. Make the panel enjoy you and your company.
– Be motivated and enthusiastic during your interview. See the positives.
– One of the most common questions is to ask about what your weaknesses are – you need to have really practiced answering this one. Make the weaknesses sound as positives and strengths so for e.g. “sometimes I am concerned that I may take on too much with a job e.g. it’s hard to say no to additional work when you love what you are doing and therefore you can over commit.”
– Don’t say you get bored quickly…this tends to be a common mistake and also it’s naive. A job should not ever be boring otherwise it’s not the right job for you. What appears to be a simple job may have a lot of in-depth work behind the scenes so there should be good analytic skills by you here. Employers are not stupid – they would not be trying to source a job taking up precious time and money if the job was an easy and “boring” job to undertake. Here you can talk about how you like to be constantly challenged and you enjoy learning about new areas and understanding how jobs interrelated and work together; synergy!
– Some interviewers will ask you to demonstrate a mistake you have made – the key here is to be honest but then specify what you have learnt as a direct result of that mistake. Everyone makes mistakes the key is to learn from them and not make them again. Some interviews may even discuss your failures so again this is the same principle.
– You will always be asked if you have any questions – make sure you ask some. This is your chance to become the interviewer and ask pertinent questions about the company, the future strategy ,the progression within the job, the set up of the job and who you could be working along and also you can make your own suggestions about what you can bring to the table with your skill set.
– Some interviewees reiterate how much they want the job and ask for feedback so they can deal with any concerns the interviewer may have about being a suitable candidate. Personally I think this is a hard call and an area that is of personal preference. You don’t want to appear pushy or arrogant and likewise you don’t want to be a push over either. This is your interview and your call.
– Asking about money in the interview tends to be a no-no too. You should know this information before you go as well as holiday entitlement etc.
– Always always always say thank you for their time and say that you enjoyed the interview – even if you didn’t.
Go back after the interview
– How many people would think of calling or emailing the next day to say thank you for the interview. It makes you that bit different again.
– Contact the HR department too and thank them and also ask about lead times for an answer – again remember though not to be pushy.
– If you were unsuccessful but really want to work in that company then ask if there is tempting work available.
– Again if you were unsuccessful ask for feedback so you can learn for the future.
– If you were successful then write to thank them for the offer immediately but if you have other jobs in the pipeline don’t commit straight away.
The more interviews you do the better you will become. People are sympathetic and will remember you are nervous especially if it really is your dream job. BE yourself, don’t lie or over exaggerate your strengths, if you can’t answer a question truthfully defer it and say you will come back with an answer if required. One employer I know used to deliberately make up the names of design labels and then ask the interviewee if they had heard of this label in New York or Milan. That was their gauge for seeing how honest they were. Be yourself, relax and enjoy the experience.
Fashion Enter Ltd and http://www.fashioncapital.co.uk/ have a stand at Graduate Fashion Week so please feel free to drop by and see us.