I have now wrote a book on fashion interning, containing 75 pages of my top tips and insider advice for aspiring fashion interns!
As your manicured helping hand, The Fashion Internship Guide offers all the advice on how you can gain valuable experience to build your CV, cultivate your USP, create a fantastic application, and excel in an interview; propelling yourself towards the working woman or man you wish to be.
Heya! Another installment of The Internship Guide: How to impress at an interview. I randomly met a reader in Selfridges the other day (hello!) and she said how they were especially long, I have a hard time keeping them short! Maybe I should change this picture to my own Blythe doll? A new store has opened in town for models of cars and planes and stuff and it's really huge, and I keep going in there asking if they do girl stuff. The first time I think I spoke to the manager and she said they'd had other requests and were feeding it back to their management that there was demand for doll collectibles, but the second time I spoke to some guy that was like, 'Err, if you want dolls, maybe you should go to like, Toys R Us?' in a sort of 'Hahaha this girl is cer-azy, do you know you're a freak!'?' kinda way. Well maybe I will! I shall take my business elsewhere and check out their doll's clothes and props soon. I've been looking on Etsy but I can't figure out how you can search stores in your own country. When I was little, if we tidied our room on a Saturday morning, my sister and I would get a new Barbie outfit! We had tonnes and a few Shellys and X-Men dolls stolen from my brothers and even a self-dubbed Rudey Nudey Barbie with crazy hacked off hair who would sometimes knock on the front door of the Barbie house and be like 'Hiiiii I'm Rudey Nudey!!!' all crazy and the other Barbies would be like 'Omggg ewww! Who is this naked lady! Eeee!'
Last time I talked about how to get an internship and today I'll give the tips I found are useful to use at an interview. These tips might be applicable to any kind of interview as I believe the more interviews you've had, the better you perform in them, and I've had many! I've had part time jobs working in high street stores and recently went to two before I had the interview for were I'm at now and it was the best interview I've ever had and my manager said in the feedback that I was the perfect interview candidate. But I obviously didn't get the position at the interviews before that and I'll talk about it further on. If you have any interview tips, please comment them for others to see!
How do I prepare for an interview?
You have an interview? That's great! It must have been the result of applying for all the opportunities you find, checking websites daily, thinking outside the box, and making sure your CV represents the great skills you have. I was only interviewed for one of my internship placements but have lots of interview experience so there were a few things I did before I went, and a few things I could have done in hindsight.
If you owned a company, you'd want employees not only to be familiar with you, but also love your message and purpose. A company does not have the time to teach you how to do tasks and teach you about the tasks they actually do in the first place, you should already know! Research what kind of role your company has in the industry, its clients, its history, the key names of employees, and any recent happenings. At the high street store I work at now, I know they do work with fashion graduates so I mentioned in my interview how cool it was that they support textile students like me. Knowledge is power! You cannot go into the interview knowing too much. If you are travelling there, prepare some key points in a notebook to look over before you go.
Reserve time to plan in advance to plan your journey, thoughts and outfit. My interview for one of my placements was in London and so I made sure to get there early to find the place, and then went and had a drink and a snack while waiting. The employer may have a copy of your CV at the interview or will have gone over it before seeing you, so make sure you refresh yourself on the points you made and all the experiences you have mentioned. If they ask you about a job you did three years ago, you'll be ready to talk about it.
If you're travelling on a train/tube/bus and it's a fashion internship, take a magazine to read. You'll have fashion on the brain and will be up to date on any recent happenings and future trends. Of course if it's a magazine or publication that's you're interviewing at, read their latest issue.
What should I wear to an interview?
You should always be true to yourself in whatever you do, but align some tips with your own style. If your clothes can dictate how you feel and act on the day, wear something fresh, new or loved so you feel current, ready and comfortable in yourself and the fact that you look your best. If you do plan on buying something new, don't do a last minute dash! Base your look on what you'd wear if you did work at the company so you really project yourself into the role. Remember details and wear interesting accessories and a lovely bag, it will show you'll take care of the small details at work too!
If you have an interview at a very fashion forward place or somewhere that is a bit intimidating, wear a few pieces that you love and really represent your style, and maybe something new to boost it into current fashion trends. Remember small details like nail polish or earrings.
For my interview at the fashion PR agency, I had no idea what to wear as I didn't know what a PR agency would be like! I think I wore velvet leggings and a mini H&M tutu skirt (a subtle one, not a poofy underskirt type!), and the lace H&M biker style jacket. One of the girls that worked there asked where it was from so that was lucky! I also wore my Weekday leopard wedges as I thought wearing heels would look a bit more fashionable and mature, but after walking up two flights of stairs I was a bit out of breath! If you do, wear comfy heels and put them on just before you enter the building. No point wearing them for the whole journey!
Some fab inspiration is the What Team Elle Wears To Work blog that shows what the actual Elle staff wear to work each Monday. If I were them, I would totally wear my best outfits on that day haha! If you check out the site, you can see it's not all about smart designer items and looking classy or like you're wearing designer labels. It's not fashion week every day, but I think the commonalities between the staffers are that they all wear good quality things and don't over accessorize. A lot of the jewellery they do wear are unique or special pieces often from jewellers or by expensive brands, and there's a lot of denim and trousers. Remember, interns spend a lot of time travelling between desks, carrying and packing things, and possibly setting things out or sitting on the floor. Don't wear delicate tights! If you look like you're not used to hard work in your interview by wearing fragile looking things, you might be less likely to get the job. Wear something that you could wear to your first day so you're ready to get stuck right in. If you only dress to impress in the interview, they will have no idea what you wear on a normal basis, and as a member of the team you are part of the face of their company.
I'd also wear a nice perfume (not too much!) so you are literally a breath of fresh air!
What should I take to an interview?
One thing you don't want is an overflowing, heavy bag!! Keep things to a minimum and along with your other daily stuff, take a little notebook and pen or your diary just encase you need to write down dates or take down any info. Don't forget an umbrella just encase, and take a cardigan or jacket so you don't turn up shivering if there's a temperature drop! You might want to keep a little mirror in your bag so you can double check your makeup is fine and take some water so you're ready to chat away. Don't be afraid to take a sip during your interview!
What will happen in my interview?
Don't be scared! The more interviews you have, the more comfortable you'll feel in the future so don't put too much pressure on yourself. If the job is right for you and is meant to be, you'll have a great chance. If not, put it down to experience. The two jobs I interviewed for recently were definitely not for me but each style of interview was different so it was great experience. The first was on a makeup counter where I realised I love makeup but could not put it on other people and persuade them to buy it. But during the one to one chat I was asked questions which I could keep in mind and could also observe what I thought was great about other candidates. It's important to project yourself as much as possible but be open to learning. The other interview didn't actually ask us any questions but was a group discussion on some questions in the application form. One was that if a customer was trying on an item you thought was ugly and asked for another size, what should you do. I suggested that everyone has their own style and just because I thought something was ugly, it wouldn't mean the customer did. Maybe they loved it. But that turned out to be the wrong answer, oh well! I don't shop in the store anyway but it's great to look back on and think of ways you could have improved your time, and it makes interviews a lot less stressful next time.
One of the most important things I observed and learned at the PR agency was that it doesn't cost anything to be nice, so be extra nice. Unless it's to the point of ridiculousness or disturbance, there's nothing bad about a lovely person who is cheerful and polite. When someone says hi, how are you?, ask them back how they are. Don't be shy! Be a pleasure to interview by smiling, and take a few deep breaths if you're nervous. The interviewer is a person too and really you're only having a chat. Pretend your family or friends are watching and remember how you portray yourself naturally when they're around.
At the end of most interviews they ask if you have any questions so try to go with one in mind. Make it something with a fairly short answer but use it to show you're interested in the company. Sometimes when you're in the situation and really want to please, you'll say yes to everything, so don't promise you can work for more time than you can and make sure the offer satisfies what was stated in the job description.
If you haven't seen The Hills or The City, some of the girls on the show worked at a PR agency owned by Kelly Cutrone (I just read her book!), and she had her own series called Kell on Earth set in her New York offices. She's know for being upfront but some of her employees interviewed some interns and just after they'd hired one, they went on Twitter and found she'd tweeted before and when she was just outside the office door all about what the place was like and how she got the job and was going to be on TV. They rang her and declined their offer! A job should not be gossip. My biggest pet peeve is people showing off and I cringe when people flash their life around, especially on Facebook. There's no need for anyone you don't really know to hear about your accomplishments so don't let it go to your head, find better thrills in life! Be respectful and have your internship as a personal gain rather than a medal.
What will I be asked in my interview?
You're usually asked what you know about a company and what you know about the role you're wanting to take. Look both up on the internet so you know what sort of thing they expect and always relate all your points back to the skills you have. I'll talk about what I actually did at my internships next time! I was asked what magazines I read and celebrity style I liked I think, as it related to PR, and I listed my favourites but also ones I thought were relevant, and I even said I didn't read UK Vogue because I didn't think I was the target audience (what a snoozefest!). It showed I was aware of some magazines even if I didn't read them, and was my true opinion too. Never lie or else you might be called up on it later! If you don't know the answer to a question or can't think of anything to say, express how you're full of enthusiasm and it's one of the things you look forward to learning. Really project yourself into the role. Favourite questions to ask often start with 'Can you describe a time when...' so that's why it's important to refresh your mind on all the work experience and interests you have.
If there's something you don't think you can show in an interview setting, find a way to mention it. For example, I don't think I look like I'm that great at hauling around clothes or pulling two hundred lookbooks to the post office so actually say most of the time that I'm stronger than I look and like to get stuck in! Make sure you talk about your qualities as a few may be missed if some questions aren't covered.
Good luck :)