Style Files | A beginner's guide to acing a fashion job interview

After endless phone calls and bated breath, you've finally managed to bag an interview with the publication/design studio/fashion designer you've only dreamed of working with. So you imagine yourself sashaying through the door, looking fabulous from top to toe, charming the CEO in five minutes flat and being told that you're hired instantly. Because that's probably how fashion interviews work, right? Wrong.

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During my job application process, I repeatedly heard how easy fashion interviews must be because 'you just have to be well-dressed' or how 'it's so much easier compared to a real interview'. Multiple interviews and jobs later, those words couldn't be any further from the truth. Like any other interview in hospitality, I.T. or management, fashion interviews are expansive and gruelling. My previous beginner's guide spoke how you can get a foothold in the industry so this edition is the next step to actualise your fashion dreams. If you've finally cinched that coveted interview, you already know how important it is to nail it. That's now possible with a little help from the collective wisdom I've learned through the years.

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Prep steps

Congratulations, you got the interview! Now all that's left is to turn it into a job. For that, being prepared is top priority. I've previously spoken about how I generally like to put my best foot forward. To do that in an interview, I compile a list of probable questions that could be asked to help me stay one step ahead of the game. Read up on the current affairs of the industry as well as on the happenings of the company you are interviewing with. Look up the location on Google Maps a day prior and estimate your travel time so that on the d-day, you won't be late or lost in an alley.

Interview baggage

In all likelihood, you won't be walking into the interview arms a-swinging because you'll need to carry your necessary tools and paper work. Prior to the day, find out from HR what documentation you need and carry it on A4 sized colour prints. If you're showing your interviewer a soft copy of your work, carry it on a pen drive with your laptop because you never know if you'll have access to one. The trick to staying calm in the final minutes before the interview is to go completely prepared for any eventuality so that nothing can possibly fluster you.

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Appearance is key

Thankfully, fashion is a fairly lenient industry when it comes to dressing so restricting yourself to a white shirt and black trousers isn't necessary. Your appearance is an area where you can allow your personality to shine through - in limits of course. Depending on the dress code of the office (another point to ask your HR personnel about), it's safe to wear formal clothing or smart casuals. This could be well-fitted trousers in dark tones, delicate printed shirts, midi skirts in muted tones and pastel shift dresses. Avoid heels completely - this is an interview, not a Friday night at the club. Instead, ballet flats or minimal sandals should do the trick. For your make up, opt for light skin coverage, a simple swipe of eye liner, a mauve toned lip and groomed, light coloured nails.

Interview etiquette

You know how they say that first impressions are the last impressions? Well, it's highly applicable to your interview. The very first time you meet the interviewer could be just the time for you to create an impact and get hired. From the second you walk into the door, be on your best behaviour. Wait patiently in the lobby, no matter how long it takes without getting disgruntled. Hold doors open for others and seat yourself properly. Switch your phone on silent and tuck it away in your hand bag. Remember everything you've learned about saying please, thank you and sorry because courtesy will hold you in good steed, during your interview and in life too.

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Photography: Leo Alemao / Style File

The moment of truth

You've finally entered a spacey conference room with swinging glass doors. You've made it to this point with a cheerful demeanour and no untoward incident whatsoever. This is it - the tipping point that could open every door you've ever wanted. So start with a polite smile and firm hand shake to open the conversation on a pleasant note. Maintain a healthy balance of eye contact, without verging on creepy. When asked for an introduction, speak about your education, previous work places and relevant assignments. In a first interview, expect to be the one doing most of the talking. In the second and third one onwards, you can discuss details of allowances, salaries and leave days. Lastly, while I have stressed on the importance of being knowledgeable, it deserves to be doubly highlighted. There's absolutely no substitute for being well-read, which is bound to start your journey on the right foot.

So if you're heading for a fashion interview, I wish you a tonne of luck and hope my experience helps you bag the job of your dreams.


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