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Interviewing For A Career in Fashion - Terms of Interest to the Fashion Industry

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Interviewing for a career in fashion carries the same rules as interviewing for a position in any other industry. The only exception is that there's a little more flexibility in choosing the ideal interview outfit. Since fashion is a creative industry, the job candidates need not show up in a navy blue suit, nude stockings, navy blue pumps, and a set of pearls. Although the job candidate should be dressed in professional attire, there is a bit more room for personal expression and fashion flair. A well tailored dress , scarf, and heels is appropriate as is a stylish yet somewhat conservative skirt and a blouse accented with minimal jewelry.

How to Ace an Interview

1. Be 5 to 10 minutes early – Punctuality is a clue to future behavior. Call if there is the slightest chance of being late.

2. Be enthusiastic – First impressions dramatically affect the ultimate decision.

3. Be involved – The most effective interviews are those where an active two-way conversation prevails. Interject inquisitive and probing insight and do not let the interview turn into just a question and answer period.

4. Remain attentive – Stay alert and never let your guard down. Maintain eye contact. Sit forward in your chair with good posture. Be animated. Your enthusiasm will breed enthusiasm in the interviewer.

5. Be self-confident – Unless you are confident in yourself, the interviewer will not be confident in your ability to do the job.

6. Don’t get cocky – Confident, Yes. Arrogant and overbearing, No! This is a key reason top people don’t get offers.

7. Be positive about past and current employers – Do not “bad-mouth" previous positions, companies, or employers. No matter how well founded, this implies a negative attitude, one typical of those who do not take personal responsibility for their actions.

8.. Go alone – Never bring anyone with you to an interview.

9. Do not smoke or eat – Refuse cigarettes and only eat at a luncheon interview.

10. Use a FIRM handshake – For both men and women.

Gaining Control

1. After an initial exchange of amenities, your first question should be: “I understand what a (TITLE) does, but in order to make sure we are both on the same wavelength, what are the duties and responsibilities of the position?" The interviewer’s response will give you a blueprint of what he or she expects of the successful candidate.

2. Let the interviewer know that you want to demonstrate clearly HOW YOU WILL DO the work that needs to be done.

3. Focus on what YOU CAN DO for the employer and turn the interview into a solution to the employer’s problems or opportunities.

Intuitive questions to ask

1. If I were hired, what would be my top priority? – This question will tell you whether you can do the job and if you want the job. Give examples of your accomplishments in this area.

2. If I were hired, what would be my first project or production goal? – This will tell you if production goals are realistic and attainable. Talk about accomplishments in this area.

3. If I perform well, where might the position lead? –This will tell whether the position is consistent with your career objectives.

4. What characteristics, personal and technical, must a person possess to be successful in this position?

5. What criteria are used to judge successful performance in this position?

6. What are the most critical aspects of this position?

7. What exactly does this company value the most, and how do you think my work for you will further these values?

8. What’s the most important thing I can do to help within the first 90 days of my employment?

9. In what areas could your team use a little polishing?

10. When top performers leave the company, why do they leave, and where do they usually go? I am very interested in this job, and I know your endorsement is key to my receiving an offer. May I have your endorsement?

Questions NOT to ask

1. DO NOT ASK Compensation and benefits – Especially during the first interview. If asked a compensation question respond by answering “I am currently earning $$$$$ and would expect a reasonable increase to make a move."

2. DO NOT ASK What the standard hours of business are, or how much time you would have at lunch. – Asking these question connote clock watching, and will question your commitment to getting the job done. Make the interviewer aware of any bona fide time constraints you may have at either end of the day. It is better to comment, “I am accustomed to working whatever hours necessary to get the job done. Does this position require extensive overtime on a regular basis?"

Most frequently asked questions

1. Why would you want to work here? – Good reasons would be: career opportunity, known growth tracks of current employees, reputation of the company, the position or company meets your career objectives. Poor reasons would be: compensation, benefits, that you NEED a job, proximity to home. The interviewer must feel you want the job for the right reasons.

2. What are your short and long term career goals? – Be consistent.. Short and long term goals should be compatible. If your short-term goal is a position with a corporation, your long-term goal should be an upper level position (speak in general terms to show that you have flexibility and versatility, not toward a specific position) as long as the company’s and your objectives continue to be compatible. Your long-term goal in this case should not be to own your own company.

3. What is your biggest strength? – Give examples and elaborate. Do not just use superlatives (hard working, technical, diligent).

4. What is your biggest weakness? – Do not give a standard response (I’m too hard on myself, I’m a workaholic, or I’m too detailed). A good response would be a lack of exposure in an area not too closely related to the position at hand.

5. Be prepared for closed-end questions – (questions that require a yes or no response) Don’t just answer yes or no, ELABORATE!

6. Why are you leaving your current position? – Do not bad-mouth previous employers. Do not sound too opportunistic. State that you have given your decision to pursue the opportunity, it is your personal consideration, or that due to changes with you current employer, opportunities appear to be limited.

7. What is your most significant accomplishment? – Prepare extensively for this question, and SELL YOURSELF!! Tell at least a two-minute story.

Communication

Keep your audience in mind – Are you speaking to a technical person, a Human Resource representative, or both? Try not to speak overly technically to an interviewer that may not be as technical as yourself, but ask more general questions about the company and its employees. Do not underestimate Human Resource’s influence in the hiring process; Please treat this interview component accordingly.

Closing

1. Recap the interviewer’s major problems and needs and quickly summarize how you will solve those problems and why you are the best fit for the position.

2. State that you feel your qualifications closely match their requirements and ask the interviewer if they agree.

3. Address any immediate concerns you may have.

4. Offer to address any questions or concerns that the interviewer may have.

5. Ask for the Job!! – Most candidates never do. An effective way to ask would be “I am very interested in this position, and I am prepared to accept an offer if extended." OR “I am interested in pursing this opportunity. What would be the next step?"

6. Try to obtain a business card of the people with whom you interview.. Their card will have the correct spelling of their name and their title for the thank you note.

Don't forget to send THANK YOU NOTES to the person that gave you the interview.  Take extra care to ensure that the letter is grammatically correct and that there are no misspellings

By Regina Cooper

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