Why taking an Employee-Centric Approach to Fashion Job Interviews is Virtually Infallible

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Jan 25, 2021

Jan 25, 2021 • by Rebecca Smith

The fashion industry has long been one of the most dynamic and exciting sectors in the world. With its increasing technological advancements, the industry is constantly changing and adapting to new trends and needs.The global fashion industry now accounts for over one trillion dollars in annual revenue and is predicted to grow even further thanks to the changing tastes of consumers.

The concept of fast fashion has allowed consumers to access affordable clothing from around the world, meaning that today it is possible to live in Los Angeles and buy a shirt manufactured in China for less than $5. In North America alone, consumers spend over $400 billion on clothes each year. With this in mind, fashion can definitely be a lucrative career path, if you know what you’re doing.

Analyzing the most recent survey from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fashion Stylist careers are expected to grow faster than average through 2024.Companies such as Gap Inc, Express, Ralph Lauren Corp and many others are currently hiring senior level fashion stylists.The bureau estimates that the growth rate for Fashion Stylists from 2014-2024 will be 11% despite the global challenges This is much better than the average job growth rate of 4% in the US.

As 2020 came to a close and the financial sectors began picking up steam in 2021, job outlook and prospects for fashion professionals are still uncertain. While some are continuing seeking productive career options to increase their take-home salary, a large group of workers, from retail fashion to production, are still struggling to make ends meet. Nonetheless, some job market opportunities have amplified considerably, but so has the competition. Therefore, despite having the required skills and qualifications for a fashion job, even the best candidates are barely making it past the job interviews. In fact, there are many obstacles when looking for a job in any industry, and although it's blatantly denied by employers, the sad reality is that highly qualified appplicants often suffer from racial discrimination during the hiring process.

The reason here has less to do with the quality of the applicants and more to do with the perspective of the employer- a reality that those entering the workforce have already been facing for years. Some common advice to job applicants in all industries is to imagine the interview from the perspective of the hiring manager. When economic stability is higher and companies are hiring more freely, job seekers can worry less about standing out or making an impact, but in today’s job market, where competition is high, every opportunity to stand out is a step closer to scoring the job.

According to Ashleigh Corker, the Co-Founder of Proto101, a men’s t-shirt brand focused on offering sustainable, high quality and comfortable clothing at a great price, “With more work being done virtually, job seekers need to demonstrate exceptional communication skills across the board: email, written, verbal, non-verbal as well as be able to demonstrate experience self-managing priorities.”

Is there an Employer Rulebook to Follow, specifically for the Fashion industry?

Interviews can get tricky, especially to an applicant who is not on the same page as the employer. While there is not a specific rulebook to follow, approaching an interview is not a time to be taking a trial and error approach. Instead, you as an applicant may have more success by focusing on things you can control, such as being more approachable, looking your best, and following other basic principles based on the nature of the organization or the position that you are interviewing for.

Besides, job interviews for rewarding roles at the top fashion firms and boutiques, or as buyers, fashion designers, and merchandisers, having an element of unpredictability may work in your benefit. Therefore, the mantra to crack one would be to keep an open mind and prepare whilst keeping the latest hiring trends in mind. 

According to Ashleigh, “Applicants should have knowledge about the state of the fashion industry and have opinions about where the industry is going with regards to marketing channels, sustainability, and aesthetics. Candidates should be ready to discuss ideas that could be a game changer or bring in new customers.”

Given the growing volume of applications received daily by employers, it has actually become hard to pinpoint the right individual for the job. While getting shortlisted for an interview is also an achievement in itself, getting the job is all about understanding the perspective of the employer and to align the approach, presentation, and lingo, accordingly.

How to Approach a Job Interview?

While you wouldn’t know the members of an interview panel, you can always ascertain the job qualification and interview clearing trends to approach a job interview in a more confident manner.

Based on honest confessions made by elite recruiters, designers of repute, and CFOs, almost 79 percent consider humor to be one of the important traits.Honestly, it doesn’t hurt for a fashion designer to have a good sense of humor, as the industry can be intense and stressful. 

However, to explore the humor-quotient in job-seekers; employers need to move the conversation in a direction that allows the applicant familiarity and comfort.

Moreover, as revealed by verifiable stats, an interview lasts for an average of 40 minutes, which gives the prospective employee enough time to forge a connection with the employer.

However, considering each of the mentioned aspects, stats, and insights pitched forth by several interviewed CEOs, CFOs, and HR professionals, here are aspects that an applicant needs to be mindful of:

Overall Appearance

While the dress code can make quite a statement in the concerned arena, applicants should look their best, as per the intricacy of the employment position. Apparently, a well-dressed applicant makes the best first impression, which takes center-stage for the better part of the 40-minute process. Then again, if you are serious about the job, consider working on the posture and body language to further the chances of positive interaction. 

Almost 33 percent of employers consider fidgeting to be a common and often catastrophic mistake during interviews.

Not to mention, stay away from slouching, excessive hand gestures, and project attentiveness, regardless of how the employer approaches the fashion job interview.

Knowledge about the Firm

A good way to approach an interview from an employer’s perspective is to gather extensive and relevant information about the company and your role. Every company relevant to the fashion industry, is expected to have some kind of historical backstory or a dynamic background. Therefore, employers value it when the applicant puts an effort to learn about it and come equipped to contribute to the company culture.. 

While researching the organization’s history is a good start, employers look for an in-depth understanding where the background knowledge does not appear to be superficial but can be conveyed in relation to the job position.

Besides, at least 47 percent of employers discard applicants who have minimal to no knowledge about the company.

The Personal Touch

While this approach is hard to get by unless you already know who is in the interview panel, it actually necessitates the role of eye contact and rapport establishment.

Eye contact during interviews is a must, as almost 65 percent of the potential candidates fail to make the cut if they do not maintain the same.

Play the Personality Game

It is important to keep an open mind during an interview and analyze the employer. While being your true self actually pays rich dividends, try and adapt to the employer’s tone, based on the questions asked. That said the infallible traits which never lose out on the sheen include genuineness, wit, and warmth.

Bottom-Line

While we did enlist a handful of employer-centric demeanors that you need to consider before taking the seat at the conference table of a reputed fashion-centric firm,, the list might get added to, depending on the organizational expectations. However, it is necessary to understand that you should never down-sell yourself at an interview as employers often end up selecting the most confident applicants

Regardless of the personality, affable traits, and excellent grooming tendencies, it is necessary to whet your designing, merchandising, and other relevant skills as a pro to land the preferred fashion-centric job, as almost 75 percent of global employers prefer job seekers that have all of the key skills, mentioned in the job description.