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Scaling your buying team? Here are the top questions to ask candidates

Hiring a good fashion buyer is vital to the success of your margins. Firstly, you are looking for someone who understands exactly what the job entails.
Scaling your buying team? Here are the top questions to ask candidates | EDITED

If you are a retailer looking to scale your business, hiring a good fashion buyers is vital to the success of your margins.

Clearly a good way to gauge this is from their experience and background, but you can also test this by asking some situational questions in the interview—i.e. ‘Tell us about a time when you resolved a big critical path drama?’

Next, your ideal candidate is someone who will be able (and happy) to be agile within their role: steer away from someone unwilling to dip their hands in different departments, take on tasks outside of their day-to-day and build on criticism. Egos are not welcome here. Instead, seek out someone who is excellent at organization and cross-functional working with an agile mindset.

A big ‘must’ is someone who is brimming with ideas for ways to improve your current methods with a keen understanding of the industry.

A SWOT analysis task is a good way to judge this: in your second round of interviews ask your candidate to pitch their insights and ideas after a trip into one of your stores, or otherwise, a competitor’s store. This will show how good your candidate’s ideation and presentation skills are. Otherwise, you can ask them to produce a trend presentation, selling their reasons to stock a trend they predict will be huge in six months.

A candidate that is up-to-date on the state of the market, quoting topical themes like sustainability or body diversity in these tasks, should get extra points.

Five interview questions to ask, and the answers to look out for:

In your opinion, which fashion retailer is killing it right now and why?

This answer should echo your own feelings about a competitor that is doing brilliantly, focusing on their ranges, interaction with trends and price point, and less on subjective themes such as website functionality.

How would you describe our customer in five words?

This is a fun question designed to test the candidate’s understanding of your business. Their answers should show they’ve immersed themselves in your brand when researchingthrough your social channels, newsletters, in-store and online. These five words should be similar to the ones you’d use on your company press pack.

Who are our main competitors?

Here, your candidate should accurately list competitors in the same space as you, in terms of size, success and customer-base. You’re looking for someone who’s done their research on your brand ahead of the interview. This shows that they are genuinely interested in the job, and were thorough in taking the time to prep for the interview. It’s also a good benchmark to see if they have a good understanding of where your brand sits within the market

Tell us about a time when you were faced with a critical path problem and how you resolved it?

This question should see your candidate demonstrate a good trouble-shooting head by relaying a time they’ve been faced with an issue with their critical path. Their answer should involve a cool-headed, intelligent and/or outside-the-box reaction to a problem. This also is a chance for them to talk about a time where they took ownership of the problem.

Tell us one thing we could improve on as a business and how?

For this answer, your candidate should honestly and thoughtfully detail an area of your business that could be improved without fear of insulting you.

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Are you on the other side of the interview table? If so, get clued up these killer skills, tricks and tips to get you noticed. Get started here.

Ciara Sheppard, contributor