Twenty years ago I stepped into the world of fashion operations management and a big part of my role included developing and building my team around me. When you start this new responsibility you are niaive to the schedules, endless repeats of answers and not forgetting the array of candidates that walk through the door.
If you ask any interviewer what’s their favourite question you’ll always hear a familiar favourite that’s been churned out and I’m sure the response from those interviewees will be that of fear and dread.
From my early days, interviews were based solely around service and fashion trends and as my time progressed I began to reinvent some questions and try something different and more creative for my own sanity and the need to find fresh blood.
As I progressed in my field and managed larger scale operations, I'd had enough of the repetitive questions especially the one, “tell me about yourself”. As the interviewer you sit there waiting to be dazzled and instead you find yourself fidgeting in your seating wondering if they still have your favourite soup on at Eat!
As peak season approached, my staffing levels took on new heights and thought of taking on hundreds of interviews was enough to make me want to phone in sick - after all I still had my day to day role to execute at the height of business. So I decided to try group interviews in the hope that I could save time, find jewels amongst the hundreds, really get ahead of the game and most of all, make it a fun experience for everyone. The hours of planning and organisation from myself along with my team was exhausting but we pulled together and enjoyed the day, finished by the fashion show we had them put on for us. We found ourselves creased with laughter as true personalities shone through and from these interview assessments came a dazzling group of staff, some of which climbed the ladder very quickly.
You will always have that one interviewee who turned up having not researched the business and role they'd applied for or the person who's interpreted dress code badly (even though you stressed in the email and phone call, dress to reflect the brand)... the interviewee who thought they were your boss never mind the CEO and last but not least the person that crept round the door, looking like they wouldn’t say boo to a goose (but turned out to be the best person you have ever interviewed and hired and possibly (like me) still in touch with twenty years later, now considered a friend.
For those who are attending an interview whether it be for an internship, a senior management position or even a temporary stop gap, just remember that your interviewer has probably seen fifty people already, hasn’t eaten and frankly is looking for a diamond in a haystack....... so dazzle them!!!
TIME TO SHINE - OUR TIPS
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH - Information is knowledge and knowledge is power! So much info is readily available at your fingertips. View company websites, research the hiring managers and department heads. Check them out on LinkedIn, search their company pages on social media. Google them to gain recent news stories.
2. LOOK THE PART - Be professional, well groomed and adhere to company culture and team fit. Is the business you're interviewing with corporate or creative? Do your homework and dress to impress.
3. YOUR STORY - Take along copies of your up to date CV, a pad and a pen. If any unexpected interviewers are brought in, you can let them have a copy, plus you're equipped to take notes throughout the meeting which shows potential employers that you're keen and interested.
4. SELL YOURSELF - What are your biggest achievements? Whats your USP? What experience do you have in relation to the role? Also compile a list of questions that you may want to ask at the end of your interview. This once again displays enthusiasm and your interest, that you're taking the meeting seriously.
5. YOUR JOURNEY TO SUCCESS - Plan your journey to the meeting venue and give yourself enough time to arrive early and collect yourself before you meet your future employer.
6. YOUR BIG ENTRANCE - It's true that first impressions count so give your best smile and offer a firm handshake. Show the same amount of respect to each and every person that you meet on the day.
7. BE ALL EARS - Ensure you listen carefully to everything your interviewer says throughout the meeting and ANSWER each question without going off on a tangent (which is easily done!)
8. NEVER, EVER - discuss salary at your first meeting unless you are prompted by the person interviewing - it's simply bad etiquette.
9. BE INQUISITIVE AND ASK about the next stage at the end of your interview. Will there be a second stage? Will you be briefed on a project? When will you be likely to hear whether you've been successful?
10. GIVE THANKS, follow every meeting with a thank you email. Register your interest. Let your interviewer know you enjoyed the meeting. Thank them for their time.