Fashion Designer Interview Questions
Fashion designers work with a team of designers to create prototypes of different garments and ensembles, including formal wear, casual wear, accessories, and shoes. Fashion designers also render articles of clothing on paper and/or digitally and then create handmade prototypes to be modeled and evaluated.
A fashion designer is responsible for:
- Creating illustrations of their potential creations
- Coordinating with marketers and models
- Creating full lines of products based on specific themes and needs
- Determining the proper fabrics, colors, and styles for certain garments
- Marketing designs to companies as well as consumers
- Following and predicting fashion trends to create market-viable products
A fashion designer’s skills should include:
- Creative skills in drafting and sketching
- Computer illustration skills
- A detail-oriented method of thinking
- Experience with modern sewing machines, both domestic and industrial
- Good interpersonal skills and the ability to collaborate in an artistic environment
- The ability to accept and act on constructive criticism from clients, co-workers, and consumers
A fashion designer is often required to have a bachelor’s degree in fashion design as well as a portfolio of student work and/or previous professional work. A portfolio is absolutely essential to remain competitive in this field since it shows if you’re a good artistic fit for the potential employer. Other academic qualifications in marketing are a plus as is training in computer assisted design programs (CAD). Illustration skills are required both in digital and traditional mediums.
Salaries for fashion designers range between $52K and $84K with the median being $71K.
Factors impacting the salary you receive as a fashion designer include:
- Degrees (apprenticeship certificates, associate's, bachelor's, master's)
- Previous Designs and Awards
- Reporting Structure (seniority of the designer you report to and number of direct reports)
- Level of Performance - exceeding expectations
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Fashion Designer Interview Questions
Question: What events in your life helped you choose fashion designing as a career?
Explanation: This is a typical opening question which interviewers use to start the conversation, learn more about your background, and gather information they can use for other questions. It is your opportunity to describe your career narrative and move the interview in a direction in which you are comfortable.
Example: “My interest in fashion began early in my life. I can remember reading fashion magazines and trying on my parent's clothes to make up different outfits while still young. My interest blossomed while I was in high school and was able to create clothes that reflected my unique personality. While attending the design institute, I received my formal education in fashion and gained the technical expertise I needed to craft interesting and trendy designs. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do than be a fashion designer.”
Question: What is it you like best about being a fashion designer?
Explanation: An interviewer will ask this question to understand what aspects of fashion design you enjoy. This will tell them how well suited you are for the job and how well you will fit into their organization. Your pre-interview research should have indicated what elements of fashion design are essential to the organization. Your answer should align with those elements.
Example: “What I like best about being a fashion designer is the element of freedom I have in my creations. While I have to follow industry trends and make sure my designs are commercially viable, I also have the opportunity to experiment and try new things. I’m not afraid to fail and use any mistakes I make as lessons to improve my designs and avoid errors going forward.”
Question: Who or what are your inspirations for creating your designs?
Explanation: In fashion, it’s essential to be able to identify who your influencers are. This will give the interviewer an indication of your style and the fashion trends you prefer. Your influencers can be people from any walk of life and do not necessarily have to come from the fashion industry.
Example: “The biggest influencers on my designs and style are my parents. They both dressed very conservatively but always added an element of fashion or design to their ensembles. My father wore traditional suits but included a unique pocket square for each day of the week. My mother’s dresses had classic lines and a conservative style but also an element of color or flair which captured your eye and drew your attention to a specific item she was wearing. My style reflects this in that it is traditional with a flair.”
Question: In your opinion, what are the most critical aspects of the fashion industry?
Explanation: Being able to answer this question correctly demonstrates your knowledge of the fashion industry and how closely you follow it. This provides the interviewer with information about your background and how quickly you will be able to get up and running in this role. Staying current with trends in the industry is critical for any fashion designer. Knowing the trends can help you align your designs with them or enable you to take a radical departure from them.
Example: “I believe the key aspect of the fashion industry is its diversity. Designers can develop fashions that are traditional or extremely radical and innovative. There are a wide variety of materials you can work with and a lot of opportunities to experiment with new designs. The fact that there are several seasons also provides you with an element of diversity in that you can design for either cold or warm weather.”
Question: Can you describe what lessons you learned during your internship as a fashion designer?
Explanation: If you’re a new fashion designer, your experience during your internship is critical. This will provide the interviewer with an idea of the type of work you did and the influences on your fashion tastes and preferences. It will also provide details of your technical training and your ability to use different tools to create your designs.
Example: “I was fortunate to intern with one of the leading fashion houses in New York. I obtained this role through my teacher at the fashion institute. I took full advantage of this opportunity and spent a lot of time learning about fashion trends and design fundamentals. I also learned a lot about the technology and tools used in the industry and how I could use them to my advantage. Some of the designers I worked with still influence my designs, and I’m very thankful for this experience.”
Question: What do you believe are the essential elements needed to be successful as a fashion designer?
Explanation: This question is similar to the ones you’ve already been asked. Interviewers will often ask similar questions throughout an interview to calibrate your answers and make sure you are consistent. As long as you’re truthful and forthright with your answers, this should not be an issue.
Example: “In my opinion, the key elements a fashion designer must possess include creativity, innovation, flexibility, and determination. You need to be able to come up with new and unique designs but also understand that fashion is a commercial endeavor. Your designs need to be accepted by the public. You also have to be able to take criticism and either ignore it or learn from it, whichever is applicable.”
Question: Are you comfortable working hands-on with models and other staff in the fashion industry?
Explanation: The ability to collaborate with other people in your industry is essential for any professional. It is especially important for fashion designers. You will be working with a diverse group of people who have both artistic and business backgrounds. Being able to adapt to this and working comfortably with everyone involved in fashion is critical to your success as a designer.
Example: “I am extremely comfortable working with models and other individuals within the fashion industry. As a designer, I recognize that it’s a team effort and everybody needs to collaborate effectively to produce a good design. The models, sewists, and marketing executives all play a critical role in bringing my designs to life and marketing them to the target audience. I am open to advice and suggestions which will improve my designs and make them more commercially viable.”
Question: What are your favorite trends in fashion, past and present?
Explanation: Being able to identify both past and present trends in the fashion industry demonstrates your knowledge of the industry and how closely you follow it. This knowledge will help you avoid repeating past designs and align your designs with current trends in the marketplace. You should be able to easily describe how old trends have influenced you and the new trends you’re interested in.
Example: “I am fascinated by the fashion industry and spend a lot of time reviewing the industry’s history. I also stay current with new trends in the industry. This helps me understand what the marketplace is looking for and how my designs will fit in with the industry. I love the simple lines and clean designs from the 1920s, which seem to be coming back in a lot of contemporary designs. My style reflects this but also adds an innovative element that helps me distinguish myself from other designers.”
Question: What ethics are important for people involved with fashion?
Explanation: An interviewer will ask you about your ethics to make sure they will not interfere with your ability to work in their organization. The opportunity to copy other designers is prevalent within the fashion industry and can lead to a design house developing a reputation as not being an innovator. Fashion is fickle, and it is better to produce an unpopular design than to copy somebody else’s work.
Example: “The most important ethic for anyone involved in the fashion industry is honesty and integrity. Fashion designs should be unique and innovative, even if they only slightly alter existing designs. Copying somebody else’s style or using their design is an ethical violation. Taking credit for someone else’s work is the worst thing you can do in this industry. I would rather produce a design that is not accepted by the public than be accused of copying somebody else’s style.”
Question: As a fashion designer, how would you advise someone to dress for a job interview?
Explanation: This is an interesting question since you’re sitting in an interview while being asked this. You can reference your own outfit and describe why you chose to wear it. Alternatively, you can also provide advice you would give other people who are going on an interview.
Example: “The fashion advice I would provide to anyone going on an interview would be to dress a little better than the typical dress code of the organization with which you are interviewing. It is amazingly easy to be both overdressed and underdressed for an interview. Dressing appropriately keeps the attention on you and your talents, not on what you’re wearing or your appearance.”
Additional Fashion Designer Interview Questions
How would you define your idea of fashion?
List some of your design influences, both past and present.
How computer literate are you in this field?
Do you prefer traditional illustrating styles or newer digital mediums?
What do you do to track trends and stay in touch with the current consumer?
How do you think your design styles have changed over your career?
How do you handle disagreements in design with co-workers?
How do you handle disagreements in design with clients?
What fashion trends are you passionate about?
How do you handle criticism in the workplace and from consumers?
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