Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Turn around

Twice in my career I made the decision to work for a ‘turn around’. That is, I chose to work for brands that were in either financial distress or had a tarnished reputation. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I liked the idea of restoring a brand to its former glory. With that, I had two similar yet different experiences that will help inform my future employment choices.

Working for a turnaround can be both rewarding and frustrating. Most companies who are in a failing position are aware they need to do something to change the trend. While the company and top management may be committed, the change needs to filter through the entire organization in order to achieve goals associated with a turn around.

What are signs that the entire organization is committed to turn around? How clear is leadership in the organization? Who is in charge? What is his/ her track record? What skills would be valuable in the turnaround environment? How can your skills compliment that? What are some additional considerations you should work through before accepting a role in a turn around?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Following Up After The Interview

So you prepared for your interview.  You feel it went well.  Now you wait.  What is the etiquette for following up after an interview?

The best way to approach this is to ask politely at the end of the interview what to anticipate.  For example:  “Thank you so much for your time today.  Please let me know if you need any additional information/follow up from me.  What should I anticipate for timing regarding feedback on next steps?”

This question is best directed to the HR individual.  In many cases they will begin and end your interview day.  If there is not an HR professional on your interview schedule then it is appropriate to ask the direct hiring manager.

You should also get the email or business mailing addresses of your interviewers.  These can be requested from HR or the receptionist/coordinator that helped arrange your visit.   That SAME day send thank you notes.  Opinions on this vary, but I prefer mailed thank you notes.  These are not a recap of how great you are for the role but a genuine thank you for the opportunity to meet in person and discuss the position.

Why do I prefer written cards?  We all get a million emails that we read and delete to keep our inboxes from blowing up.  If you select a beautiful card it is something that your interviewers physically open.  It shows greater effort on your part as a candidate and it will likely remain on their desks for a few days keeping you top of mind as they make their decision.

What is the average timeframe for feedback?  In a perfect world, candidates should hear within a week.  Clearly we are not in a perfect world.  There are vacations, business travel, scheduling challenges, and additional candidates to evaluate that can delay getting the information.

If you are working through an agency like ours at Apparel Resource we will be following up with the employer regularly and keeping you posted as a candidate.  If you are interviewing directly with the employer and the date that they indicated you should hear something has come and gone, it is appropriate to call or email the HR contact and inquire about the status of your candidacy.   Inquiring once a week if you are not hearing anything is appropriate.  More frequent inquiries do not typically have a positive reaction.

What has been your experience with feedback after an interview?  Do you send your thanks you notes via email or snail mail? 

To review roles that we are having candidates interview for, visit our website at www.apparel-resource.com

Monday, May 12, 2014

Preparing for an interview

I recently participated in a panel discussion at my Alma Mater to talk about life in the fashion industry. A student mentioned she had an upcoming interview. She asked me how she could stand out as a candidate. My answer: research. You’ve heard it from me before, but it is worth repeating. Research, research, research.

First, what do you know about the company vs what do you think you know about the company? Many interviewees assume they know about a company from what they see in stores and also from what they heard from friends. What you see and hear is usually about the present and past. What this doesn’t tell you is where the company wants to go. How can you find out this information?  Read recent articles about the company. If you can’t find any articles, 10k filings or earning reports are great sources of information. While they may be somewhat boring at times, the read and preparation is often worth it. An interviewee who says “I read in your 10k filing that you are planning to expand your women’s business. Your women’s line is high quality with great colors, but I think increasing the assortment to include sweaters and knits could really capture additional market share in the women’s space.” will stand apart from many candidates who will say “your women’s line looks great. I love the dress collection from this season.” Having the knowledge is important, but as you can see from the above statements, you also need to use your critical thinking skills to help you stand apart.

Secondly, who are you interviewing with? Don’t be shy to ask the recruiter for a list of names. Have you Googled them? Have you checked them out on LinkedIn? It is always smart to know who your audience is. With today’s technology, it is easy to find out about people. Not only does it help you to understand how you can direct the conversation, but it can also help you not stick your foot in your mouth about a prior company your interviewer may have worked at in the past.

Believe it or not, hardly any candidates do this level of research. I have had candidates interview for a job in the retail division of the corporate office who ask me how many stores we have. This is one of the easiest things to find out had they cared enough about the interview to do the research. I immediately cross them off the list of potentials. If they don’t take the time to research for the interview, they are not the type of employee I’m looking for.

How can you better prepare for an upcoming interview? What research have you already done? What else can you do to stand out as a candidate?

For more information on career coaching, go to www.katekibler.com

Monday, May 5, 2014



“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

― Stephen R. Covey,

This week I have had feedback from multiple candidates and clients that they did not feel they were “heard” in an interview.   We cram a very important information exchange into an interview that is usually 30 minutes to an hour.  From the candidate perspective it is their next job/career progression at stake.  On the employer side it is evaluating whether the candidate is right for the job and the culture. Is this the right person to invest in?

Truly listening to understand by both parties is critical to make the most of an interview.  Here are some tips.


Prepare your questions.  More than enough to fill the time slot in advance.  It would be a terrible waste for you not to be listening to a candidate because you are thinking about what to ask them next.

Don’t have a single “right answer” that you are looking for.  Truly listen to the entire answer that is given and evaluate that answer on its own merit with an open mind. 

Clear your mind of your other priorities, silence emails, silence phones and interview in a quiet space without distraction.  Honor the time slot allotted.  These candidates have taken time and prepared for this visit.  They deserve your undivided attention.


It is good to have a list of things you want to share but not at the expense of not listening to and directly answering the questions your interviewer has prepared. 

Once you sit down breathe deeply, clear your mind and focus on the interviewers questions. Allow a pause when the interviewer is done speaking to be sure that was the entire question and to give yourself a moment to organize your answer.

Do not ramble and elaborate outside of the content of the question.  A direct answer and one example is plenty. 

It is typical for an interviewer to share a bit about the job content and the company.  Listen carefully, with an open and inquisitive mind.  Let them finish.  If what they shared brought questions to mind it is ok to jot a note and when they are finished you can ask your question.  Sometimes this starts a great dialog.


It is better to have a quality exchange than burn through a list of question without really listening to each other.  If you feel time is short and you want more information you can arrange to follow up with a phone call, an email exchange or a second interview. 

Have you ever been in an interview where you felt the other party was not listening?  How do you handle a rushed interview?

 Contact kari@apparel-resource.com to see what opportunities we are currently interviewing for.