Career advice > Interviews > How to sell your skills in fashion buyer interviews

How to sell your skills in fashion buyer interviews

Image: models on catwalk

Working in a fashion job is a popular career choice, from selling to buying, everyone wants be a part of it, and competition is fiercer than Tyra Banks. Working as a fashion buyer can be a dream job; who wouldn’t want to be in charge of deciding which clothes are worshipped by the fashion conscious? If you want to work in fashion, you’ve got to stand out in your interview, but luckily we’re on hand to show you how.



Essential skills

If you want to work in retail buyer jobs, the skills employers look for include:

  • Good analytical skills
  • Creativity
  • The ability to recognise future trends
  • Excellent commercial awareness
  • Communication skills
  • Confidence and presentation skills
  • Ability to make decisions under pressure
  • Negotiation skills

“A retail buyer needs a clear understanding of the customers they're buying for, the prices they're willing to pay and the likely demand for products,” said Jane Rexworthy, Head of the National Skills Academy for Retail. “Reacting to, and most importantly, forecasting market trends and changes in demand, are key aspects of the job.”

If you're a secret maths geek and are great with numbers, this is the role for you. Buyer jobs require you to work a lot with the latest sales figures, so if you've got strong numeracy skills and are highly analytical, make sure the employer knows it straight away.  “Buyers are required to analyse volumes of data and sales figures,” said Georgina Cleife at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau. “Often, maths tests are included during the interview process.”

Standing out

If you’re thinking you’ve ticked all the boxes so far, then it’s time to stand out from the crowd and show you've got good knowledge of the company. It’s not enough to just find out about their latest products and promotions, remember to compare them with their competitors and find out where they stand in the fashion world. It may sound like a ton of work, but it’ll be worth it in the end, trust us.

“It’s typical that graduates will research the history of a company but won't be up to date with commercial aspects,” said Georgina. “Gaining employment experience or a placement will also really help job applications.”

Don’t know the latest fashion? Never heard of Jimmy Choo? You’ve got some work to do. If you want to work in fashion, you’ve got to know all about it, so keeping on top of the latest fashion and industry news is essential to impress employers . Nicola Jacobs, buying manager for Footwear at Debenhams, has some hints to keep you bang on trend.

  • Use sites like WGSN and Stylesight - They’re great for online trend-analysis and research.

  • Ask people in the know- Suppliers provide great insight and can keep you up to date on what's being rolled out to the market. You may even catch a glimpse of the latest looks before anyone else.

  • Fashion press and magazines – This is a brilliant excuse to spoil yourself with magazines, it’ll help you keep up to date with current key trends.

  • Designer fashion shows – You don’t have to fly over to Milan and watch them from the front row, but reviewing designer fashion keep you on top of the emerging trends and keep you in the know.

Be prepared

As always, preparation is essential to a successful interview and most information can easily be found with a little prior research so don’t leave it till the last minute.

“With most retailers now boasting a web presence, there's no excuse not to know basic details on a potential employer,” said Jane. “Is the company independent? Is it part of a larger group? Who's on the board? What's the annual turnover? What are the key challenges for that business?”

Jane advises expanding on the skills you listed on your CV during your interview and don’t talk yourself out of the job. “If the candidate has said they're highly organised or good under pressure, the interview is the chance to give real examples to corroborate the facts.”

There may be a lot of competition in fashion jobs, but stay tough, stand out, and you'll soon be the next big thing.

Job searches:

Buyer jobs
Design jobs
Graduate jobs
Merchandiser & allocator jobs
Store management jobs
Visual merchandising jobs

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