Today we have been given the amazing opportunity to interview Diane Pearson, who is the current Head of Global Talent Acquisition at Paul Smith.  We want to give you the opportunity to learn from an expert what she looks for in candidates when hiring for different roles within the fashion industry from fashion designers to marketing consultants .

Photo by iStock from Unsplash


So, to start I would like to know how you personally would describe your job role?

I would describe my job role as a leading the process of hiring and interviewing different candidates. Me and my team will create the advertisements for the different job roles, this can be done either in house through our Paul Smith Careers Page or if we need a job role filling more urgently or feel like we want to advertise the role a wider range of candidates we work with recruitment agencies in order to achieve the goal of reaching a wider client base. As the head of my role I personally oversee all potential candidates for our interviewing process alongside conducting the interview in cooperation with the respective manager of that division. 

Considering you oversee and ultimately have final say over which candidates are hired, do you feel as if your job role is one of the more important ones at Paul Smith?

In some respects, yes but in others no. Of course, there’s a certain level of responsibility which comes with my role as I could potentially miss out on a candidate who could be extremely beneficial for us here at Paul Smith, but I have been in this role for 10 years and believe I know who is best suited or each role based off their application. There has been times where a candidate has secured a role with us and has not performed to the standard they led us to believe they could work at which is disappointing but I always try to learn from my mistakes when we start to shortlist our next set of candidates. At the end of the day everyone at Paul Smith has their own level of responsibility whether it is someone picking and packing in our warehouse or one of our directors. Our company couldn’t run without everyone working together and mistakes will be made along the way, making sure we learn from them is the most important thing.

You said you know who will work well for Paul Smith by their application, what are the signs you look out for?

Firstly of course it is their experience working within whichever department they are applying for as that is the easiest way to narrow the candidates down. But there are other signs which are just as important for me. I always look at the basics on an application such as a candidate’s spelling and grammar as they are non negotiables for me as well as their word choice. Another sign I look out for is the time a person has spent at their previous job roles, if a candidate has spent a long time working for a company it shows to me they clearly get along with who they worked with and met or even exceeded expectations given to them in their previous role. This is of course double checked through referencing but that will typically take place after we interview a candidate.

Can you further explain what you look at in a candidate’s word choice?

For me a candidate’s CV and cover letter are the first way in which they can show off their skills and is our first introduction to them as a person. Of course, you want to use this opportunity to show off your skills and experience but I have seen many candidates who will make bold statements claiming they were the ‘best’ at something in their previous role but do not have the ability to back up such a statement with statistics proving so. An ideal candidate will let their numbers do the talking for them, they do not feel the need to brag or make bold statements using too much superlative language.

Finally, what are signs you look at for when meeting a candidate in an interview setting?

What I mainly look for is someone comes properly prepared. The top candidates will research into the history of the brand or company they are interviewing for, although it does not take a very long time to research information about a company for me it is a indication of someone’s work ethic, it shows if they are willing to go that extra mile. I also judge how a candidate will present themselves, especially since we work for a well respected fashion brand. If a candidate comes in for an interview with a tie which is not straight or does not sit up straight when we are speaking with them then I automatically know they are not the right candidate; body language is very important to me. For a successful interview a candidate must be able to hold a conversation, because in essence that is what an interview is. If you have been invited for an interview then you already have the credentials on paper for the role, an interview is our chance to see if you would fit in with our working environment and are the type of person who will get along with their co-workers.