Most common fashion buyer interview questions and how to answer them

Of the thousands of fashion jobs in London and further afield, the role of a fashion buyer is one of the most popular and sought-after. In fact, there’s a high demand for talented fashion buyers in the industry right now. Working in an ambitious and fast-moving environment the fashion world brings with it an exciting lifestyle, albeit a competitive one. Our fashion recruitment agency specialises in finding executive and senior positions for aspiring candidates. So, if you’re looking to further your career as a buyer, please do get in touch. Not only can we find the perfect role for you, we can help you through the process including CV writing tips and interview preparation.

To get you started here’s our checklist of the most common fashion buyer interview questions and answers.

1. Why does the world of fashion appeal to you?

This question will inevitably come up in your interview, so it’s very important you have thought this one through. It’s not just about whether you love to shop! A genuine passion for fashion is a definite must and an interest in particular brands, designers, fabrics and specific industry trends will impress a potential employer. Really think about why you want to work in the fashion industry as opposed to any other area in retail. List one or two brands and designers you admire, and talk about an area of the industry you want to make an impact on. Be really specific and your genuine passion will shine through.

2. Why do you want to be a fashion buyer?

The purpose of this question is to enable the employer to see what your motivations are for applying for the job and your suitability for the role. Think about the role of a buyer and the responsibilities that go hand-in-hand with it. Which parts of the role of a buyer attract you? Is it an interest in consumer trends, a love for negotiation or the buzz from a positive sales reaction? Your thoughts should align with those of the company. Give examples of previous experience and how this relates to your desire for the role, this will confirm your enthusiasm for what you do.

3. What can you tell us about our company?

Again, do your research! This is a test to see how much preparation you have carried out before your interview. It will not go down well if you are unable to answer this question. Check out stores, browse the website, make a note of their previous, current, and emerging trends and styles, and Google company history. Also check out data on Companies House. That will be sure to impress!

4. What do you think about our existing range?

This is a question all potential employers will ask, so make you’ve studied their range in detail beforehand. Although this is a subjective question, you also need to look at it from an objective viewpoint. Show them what you know! Review all the styles, collections, and designers the company has at the time of your interview and think about the feedback you can give. You don’t necessarily need to give positive comments – constructive criticism will be well received and shows independence of thought – and bravery!

5. Have you visited one of our stores? Describe your experience.

Obviously, you will need to have visited the company’s store in the first place. Don’t just flick through the website and think that will be enough. The in-store experience is extremely important, especially in luxury fashion where customer experience is a huge part of the overall shopping ambience. It’s not just about purchasing the clothes and leaving the store, it is about reviewing the whole process of browsing, engaging with staff, trying items on, and asking yourself whether the setting enhances the products enough to encourage customers to buy. Feed back to the employer about your experience, and again don’t be scared to give constructive criticism. It doesn’t have to be all positive to win the role! An employer will always be interested to hear from a customer’s point of view and how they could do things differently. After all, “the customer is always right”.

6. Do you think the price of a product is more important than the quality or vice versa?

Your response to this question should reflect the ethos and products of the particular company you are interviewing for. You will need an understanding of the company’s products and price points. We place candidates into high-end luxury fashion roles, so the chances are the quality of the products sold by our clients will be top-notch. Quality would therefore outweigh a low price. Again, it’s a matter of research and knowing the company’s products. This is highly likely to come up as an interview question, so be prepared.

7. Do you know who our main rivals are?

Another research question! Once you’ve established who the company’s competitors are, which shouldn’t be too tricky, follow this up with some research on the competitors too. You’ll need to be able to say why you think the company you are interviewing for stands out comparatively and why you particularly want to work for the employer rather than for those other companies. Also highlight aspects where the competitors are doing well and what you can bring to the role to make sure your new potential employer performs better!

8. How would you describe our company in three words?

Be original and creative for this one and think outside the box. Don’t just reel off the easy obvious words that first spring to mind, or indeed those you read on the company website. Really understanding the company, its ethos and objectives is key to proving you are completely in tune with the brand and that you will therefore fit in as an employee. Clue: ‘High-end’, ‘luxury’ or ‘designer’ probably won’t get you the job!

9. Which do you think are the most important skills a buyer should have?

This is a chance for the employer to assess your understanding and knowledge of the role and to see which of the necessary attributes you possess. Make sure you talk about previous experience and produce evidence of the skills you gained. Focus on skills such as negotiating, research, data analysis, an eye for trend-spotting and decision-making - all are vital to the role of a buyer.

10. Tell us about a successful negotiation you have previously carried out.

This is more of a generic question, and you can come up with any examples from a time in your career where you have been successful at negotiation. The role of a fashion buyer will require a lot of negotiating and so it is important that you have top-notch skills here to succeed. Any situation in similar roles would be relevant, so make sure you mention any of these too.

11. What were your previous duties and responsibilities as a buyer?

Again, past experience in any previous buyer role is key here. A buyer position requires carrying out various tasks and duties, from data analysis and negotiating to ordering products and writing consumer reports. Highlight your professional skillset, especially any skills which will enable you to stand out from the crowd. If you have any knowledge of management software or if you excel at planning or business relations, be sure to discuss these in detail too.

12. Tell us about your day-to-day life at work. How do you plan and prioritise tasks?

Organisation, planning, and time management are critical skills in any job, so showing you have these necessary basic skills nailed is vital. Highlight examples throughout your career when you showed impressive organisation which yielded results. Talk the employer through your daily way of working, how you prioritise tasks, how you manage a team and how you plan your day. For example:

  • How do you manage your team’s day to day actions?
  • Do you review your project goals on a regular basis?
  • How do you identify what’s important?
  • Can you work under pressure and to deadlines?
  • What technology do you use to manage targets?

13. How would you deal with a product that suddenly started losing sales?

An employer will want to know that you can handle a pressure-driven situation and turn a bad sales reaction into a positive outcome. Outline the process you would take if this situation were to arise – from analysing sales data to looking at new competitive products or inspecting price changes. You could then explain how you might go about reviving the product, demonstrating to the employer your suitability for the role. Make sure you really rehearse your answer to this question, because if you answer it well, you really will prove you’ve got what it takes!

14. Which of our products do you think are selling well right now?

There’s no way you can answer this question without doing your research, and stepping foot into a store to view the product range on offer is a must. As you review the collection identify…

  • The products that are flying off the shelves
  • The items that are not doing so well (and have an answer for why you think that is)
  • The products that are getting the most attention from marketing and PR
  • The products that are one-offs or perhaps being trialled in low quantities

Take all of this knowledge with you to the interview and obviously be aware of current trends competitors are following. This question will indicate to the employer whether you have a talent for identifying a best-selling product.

15. Tell us about your biggest achievement as a buyer.

This is the perfect question to showcase your strengths and assets as a buyer. Use your experience to highlight your skillset and prove you have ambition and determination to go far. Your answer could incorporate good end of year results, increased sales and profits, or better margins. Ultimately, you need to demonstrate your ability to achieve outstanding goals and targets. After all, if you can talk about your successes, your potential new employer will feel confident you can bring the same success to their business too.

Getting the job

This list of the most common fashion buyer interview questions and answers is not exhaustive, but it gives you a good idea of what you will be asked and it will definitely help you on your way to getting the job you’ve always dreamed of.

Our final words of advice are:

Prepare, do your research and practise those interview questions. Show enthusiasm, passion, and confidence, but above all, be yourself.

Good luck!

Want to read more articles about securing your dream job in fashion? Check these out too:


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By Federica Pantanella
10 November 2021 15:44

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