Saturday, 21 December 2013

How to get a Job in Fashion Retail

As you all know, I have recently made a move to the big smoke. (Well, in actual fact, it was almost three months ago now but I've had little time blog.) But with the move came a hefty rent price tag, and therefore a need for a job.

I began my searches online, signing up to a number of websites such as Linkedin. After much form filling and emails, I landed myself an interview at Guess. There is a store opening in a new outlet village and so they needed a whole new team to fill the store.

HOORAH! I thought- a paid job that coincides with my degree! To prepare for the interview I took to Google- searching ridiculous, but informative, things such as 'sales assistant interview questions' 'guess interview questions'. I then wrote an answer to the answers I came across and read over them before bed.

So, off to the interview I went. For anyone who is interested; I wore a short sleeve black shift dress with tights, heeled boots and a black blazer. 

At 'Guess Headquarters' (shall we call it?) I was greeted by a lovely receptionist whom I got chatting to for around 20 minutes, before I was summoned by the lady who would be interviewing me. She took me down the stairs and through a busy office filled with displays of all the new lines that would be soon to appear in stores. (I like to think I was given a sneak preview!) 

The interview was actually quite informal, more of a chat than a strict question and answer session. As I have no retail experience prior to this, I had to prove myself more than others who were being interviewed. I was asked questions such as, 'who would you say are the main competitors for Guess?' 'how could you provide good customer service for us?' 'tell us about a time you have had to work under pressure' 'why do you want to work for Guess?'

Throughout, I tried to link my life/ work/ uni experiences to each scenario I was given, I was friendly and even tried to make the occasional joke here and there. I also made sure I was listening when she was informing me of things to do with the new store. At the end of the interview I was told I would hear back from her within a week.

And indeed, within a week I received a phone call and I had GOT THE JOB. I was to attend a week of training at the Regent Street store before commencing to the new store for training there. This is where I must tell you that I did not actually proceed with accepting the job at Guess and my reasoning will follow, but I just wanted to highlight that this post is simply to inform on how I got the job in retail and I hope it helps other people who may be reading and are wanting a job in the same field. I will also highlight that this post is by no means an 'attack' on Guess, it is simply an anecdote of my experiences there and I have nothing against them as a company and I do still shop there.

I arrived at Regent Street on the first training day feeling excited and hopeful. However, this feeling was soon to fade. We were left to wander around the store for half an hour before the manager came to take us into the 'office'- by office I mean hot, messy, smelly store cupboard. At which point she handed us a booklet of about 60 pages which we were to sit and read. She then told us a history of Guess and explained that the store was split into sections (bags, mens etc) and that we would be rotated throughout the day to allow experience on all sections of the store. We were to be paired with a member of staff who would explain how each section worked and would watch over us as we worked.

The first section I was assigned to was the shoe section. The first thing the (not at all friendly) member of staff I had been paired said to me was that I 'was not to leave shoes hanging around like this'. After explaining that I had just arrived and was new and therefore had nothing to do with the shoes that had been left out she snapped at me to tidy them away and then make sure the shoe displays were tidy.

After an hour or so of awkwardly 'tidying' the same area of the store over and over again, the same member of staff took it upon herself to tell me how 'crazy' I was to work for the company and how much she hated it. (Little did I know how much I would soon agree with her!)

I was then told to practise by serving some customers. I was sent to the HUGE stock room in search of a pair of boots and when I returned I was told I'd taken too long. I'm not really sure how quickly they expected me to manoeuvre around a stock room I had never been in before, but hey ho! After 4 hours on the same section and watching all of the other new girls being rotated around each part of the store, I went to the manager to ask why I too hadn't been rotated. She explain I must have been forgotten about and that I would be rotated after my break. I was given half an hour break, an hour before the shift ended and was then rotated to menswear for the last half hour of my shift.

All in all I found the day very unorganised, unnecessarily stressful and boring and so I decided I would not return the next day. I did not appreciate being so forgotten about during the day and thought the 'training programme' at Guess left a lot to be desired! When I got home, I sent an email to the lady whom had interviewed me explaining my thoughts and low and behold, I was ignored!

On a positive note- that experience has taught me that post degree I will NOT be pursuing a career as a fashion retail assistant but will instead look for something more interesting, behind the scenes in fashion houses.

UPDATE: I am now working in one of Jamie Oliver's restaurants and yes, it may not be a direct link to my fashion degree but it pays the bills and is also a challenging and sociable job. All in all, it will do for now! I got the job simply by walking in with a CV and coming out with a trial shift.

To summarise, below are my top 5 steps to landing a job in fashion retail;
1. research, research, research- the history of the company, their current lines, their competitors, ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING
2. practise makes perfect- prepare a series of relevant questions and devise appropriate answers that you could give in the interview
3. arrive early!
4. the best thing to wear is a smile (and also something smart with a slight edge to show how 'fashion savvy' you really are)
5. BE CONFIDENT! You have already made it through the first stage by landing the interview, so what's to stop you landing the job too?

If anyone would like any more information or help with interview techniques, just leave a comment below!

Until next time, xo

1 comment:

  1. Cute Blog!
    Joined your site! You should join mine!