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Tailors, Dressmakers, and Custom Sewers Interview
Questions

32 Questions and Answers by Ryan Brown

Updated August 21st, 2018
Question 1 of 32
Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a delivery deadline. How did you try to improve the situation?
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How to Answer
If you have never failed to meet a deadline, explain how you're able to do so. For instance, show the systems you have in place to keep track of time and the pace of your work.

If you have failed a deadline, explain the situation, including why you ended up behind schedule. Tell the outcome and any steps you took to reduce the likelihood of future repeats of this mistake.
32 Tailors, Dressmakers, and Custom Sewers Interview Questions
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  1. Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a delivery deadline. How did you try to improve the situation?
  2. How many years of experience do you have with tailoring or sewing?
  3. Have you ever made a sewing mistake you could not correct? How did you handle the situation?
  4. How would you handle a situation where you have altered a person's same suit three times, but still, the customer insists it does not fit right?
  5. Why do you want to work for our company?
  6. You hemmed a garment for a customer and it's too short by contemporary fashion standards. How do you handle the situation?
  7. What makes a good tailor? And a bad one? Please give examples.
  8. A first-time customer tries on a custom garment and expresses delight. However, you see that there are fit issues. What do you do?
  9. Tell me about a time when you were very proud of what you made. Why were you proud?
  10. Tell me about a time when you overcame a problem to finish a garment.
  11. A customer is asking you to make alterations that would be extremely time-consuming, and you have six other garments to work on, all with varying complexity. What do you do?
  12. Have you ever had a customer compliment you? What did he or she say?
  13. What are some of the ways you keep up with fashion trends?
  14. There's a thread in a buttonhole that is the wrong color, but it would be very hard for anyone to notice. What do you do?
  15. You just finished a garment and realized that you made an irreversible mistake; the garment needs to be completely remade and cannot be altered. What do you do?
  16. A prospective customer is making very specialized requests. Your boss is eager to take on the customer, but you're not confident that you can do a good job on that garment. What do you do?
  17. What do you enjoy the most about being a tailor/dressmaker?
  18. What did you dislike about the last company that you worked for?
  19. Your company just took an order for a highly customized dress for a wedding, and the deadline is much closer than you're accustomed to. How do you feel? How do you handle this situation?
  20. Do you see yourself more as an artist or an engineer? Why?
  21. Do you cut and make the entire suit, or do you work with a team?
  22. How do you handle very demanding customers who firmly believe that they know what's best?
  23. What factors do you consider when making alterations that the customer requests?
  24. Tell me about a time when a customer offended you and how you handled it.
  25. How do you handle a situation where a customer requests a style that you usually don't use?
  26. How do you deal with a situation where you're asked to handle a new cloth that you never used before?
  27. What are some techniques you use to reduce wasted time? Wasted fabric?
  28. How would you handle a situation in which one of your garments needs alteration, and your superior recommends a tailoring technique that you don't believe would be effective?
  29. How do you handle stressful situations?
  30. Give me an example of how you have an eye for detail.
  31. How long do you see yourself being a tailor?
  32. Why are you the best candidate for us?
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15 Tailors, Dressmakers, and Custom Sewers Answer Examples
1.
Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a delivery deadline. How did you try to improve the situation?
If you have never failed to meet a deadline, explain how you're able to do so. For instance, show the systems you have in place to keep track of time and the pace of your work.

If you have failed a deadline, explain the situation, including why you ended up behind schedule. Tell the outcome and any steps you took to reduce the likelihood of future repeats of this mistake.

Ryan's Answer
"I had a suit that was overdue by one week. The reason was because the cutter had a sudden family emergency, and the person who took over was new. This disrupted the flow of my work. I worked a few hours extra each day until the suit was finished. I told the boss that we need to make sure we have backups in place, like keeping a list of freelance tailors who we can outsource the work to in emergencies."
2.
How many years of experience do you have with tailoring or sewing?
This is a simple question with a simple answer. Answer honestly and directly. Try to infuse passion into your answer.

Ryan's Answer
"I have 2 years experience in professional tailoring. Beforehand, I learned from my Dad who was a professional tailor for 30 years. I knew for most of my life this was a profession that I wanted to enter and am very excited about getting that opportunity with your company."
3.
Have you ever made a sewing mistake you could not correct? How did you handle the situation?
Everyone makes mistakes. How you bounce back is what's important. Employers want someone who is honest and holds themselves accountable. Show your integrity in your response. Take responsibility, and also show your initiative by showing how you took steps to try to prevent future mistakes of the same type. If there are any improvements that came from your mistake, mention it as well.

Ryan's Answer
"When I was starting out, I once cut besom pockets instead of patch pockets for a suit jacket. I told my boss what I did wrong. He wasn't happy, of course. I told him what went wrong: I was working too quickly and misread the order form. I asked him for more training on the order form. A few weeks later, we changed the order form to be more clear based on my recommendations."
4.
How would you handle a situation where you have altered a person's same suit three times, but still, the customer insists it does not fit right?
Explain your thought process clearly by outlining your troubleshooting process.

Ryan's Answer
"I would have to look into whether this is a physical issue or a psychological one. If the feeling is physical, then the solution is different than if it's psychological. It's either a problem with the fit or the design, and I need to ask the client specific questions to see which one it is. Either way, three alterations is too much. I would apologize for the inconvenience and work with him to come to an agreement that satisfies him. At the end of the day, his satisfaction with the solution is all that matters."
5.
Why do you want to work for our company?
This is a broad question. While the most obvious answer is that you need a job, the interviewer wants to see that you took the time to do research about the company and can fit into the organization and it's mission.

In your response, highlight any commonalities that you share with the company. This can include anything from shared social connections, the company values, and professional knowledge.

Ryan's Answer
"I'm really interested in working here because I really like the styles that you create. I also read that you focus on weddings, and I love to be a part of those lifelong memories. The bride is going to look at her wedding pictures five, ten years from now, and she'll be looking at the dress that we made for her, and I really cherish that."
6.
You hemmed a garment for a customer and it's too short by contemporary fashion standards. How do you handle the situation?
Be as concrete in your answer as possible. This gives the interviewer confidence in your ability to handle these situations. You want to demonstrate that you will be sensitive to a customer's opinion and interested in keeping that customer satisfied with your work.

Ryan's Answer
"I'd ask her how she felt about the length. If she thinks it's okay, I'll ask her what the dress is for. If it's for work, I'd gently caution her that it might be too short for the office. I might also ask her the situations she plans on wearing it, then ask her what her other dresses are like. That way I have a better gauge of what she'd be comfortable with."
7.
What makes a good tailor? And a bad one? Please give examples.
Be sure to know standard technical and objective standards for creating garments. Acceptable standards of time and cost may be variable from one company to the next—mention these if appropriate. You can move the conversation to demonstrate your values. Beware of focusing on the negative. Mention it, but point out the upsides.

Ryan's Answer
"A bad tailor makes whatever it is that he's used to making for everyone else. A good tailor makes the customer happy and self-assured. You have to make the garments as quickly as you can without making mistakes. David Brown in downtown produces poorly fitting suits, but he does have good prices. Duskers uptown is good because they provide good fitting suits and great customer service at a reasonable price."
8.
A first-time customer tries on a custom garment and expresses delight. However, you see that there are fit issues. What do you do?
Demonstrate your integrity and professionalism by s

Ryan's Answer
"I'd be very happy, of course. And I wouldn't express anything negative out loud to the customer. She doesn't need to know the specifics of everything, only that it can be made better. So I present that the garment's color and drape looks wonderful on her, and I silently note all the problems with the fit. Then I'll tell her that this garment will be even better once I'm done with it."
9.
Tell me about a time when you were very proud of what you made. Why were you proud?
Choose a very special accomplishment that you think would be difficult for others to replicate. Consider the timing, and how your skills were uniquely positioned to benefit someone. Do your best to connect a positive outcome with the reasoning behind the positive reaction you had to it.

Ryan's Answer
"I had made this dress for a woman and she was so happy with it that she posted it on Facebook on Instagram, and over a hundred people liked the dress!

It was really special because I was really in the zone when I met with her and designed it. I noticed that she was wearing a cream colored sweater, and she had sapphire earrings. I noticed the same color combination in a few of her happiest photos. So I created a dress inspired by those colors. It really showed my attention to detail, and it was so exciting to delight someone that way!"
10.
Tell me about a time when you overcame a problem to finish a garment.
This question affords you a chance to showcase the most relevant quality that the employer is looking for in you.

During the interview, you should be on the lookout for key qualities that they're looking. You'll have to use your own judgment to choose which quality is best. Whichever quality you choose, the message you want to get across is that there's no problem that you can't overcome. Where there's a will, there's a way. In developing your response, explain the situation, tell the tasks you completed to overcome the problem, and end with the result.

Some qualities that you may want to consider highlighting include: teamwork, a strong work ethic, or creativity.

Ryan's Answer
"I was making my very first shirt. Just my luck, we were behind on a deadline and we needed to finish the shirt to be ready the next morning. The seams were puckering and I just didn't know how to handle it. The shirtmaker I worked under had to stay home that day, so I was by myself. So I did all the work that I could do and left that shirt alone. When the day was over, I went over to the shirtmaker's house and asked him for help. He taught me how to fix the puckering by setting the needle thread tension properly. I went back to the shop even though we were closed and I finished the sewing the shirt in time for the next morning."
11.
A customer is asking you to make alterations that would be extremely time-consuming, and you have six other garments to work on, all with varying complexity. What do you do?
Be sure to show that you always set the customer's needs as the most urgent priority. Illustrate very clearly what your thinking process is, and do your best to arrive at a compromise. Showing flexibility and sound judgment would be good here. Remember, when it comes to situational roleplaying questions, it's usually acceptable to fill in details on your own if you need to. Alternatively, you can ask for more details about the situation. Finally, you want to end with an action that shows that you have the company's interest in mind.

Ryan's Answer
"I would ask her when she needs it by. If she needs it quickly, I'll see if those other garments can be delayed by checking the due date and seeing if there are things I can do faster or out of order. If there isn't a way for me to meet the deadline, I'll tell the customer and explain exactly why. Then I'll try to negotiate a more reasonable deadline so that we can secure her as a customer."
12.
Have you ever had a customer compliment you? What did he or she say?
You can be complimented on any number of things. It may be the quality of your work, the speed at which you work, your consistency, or anything else. Choose the attribute that you think is most valuable to the company in this particular role. For example, working quickly may be more important for an alterations tailor; being empathetic would be more important for a fitter; and being creative would be more important for a designer.

Identify the most important attribute that fits both the company and the role you're applying for. Then think of a time when you exceeded a customer's expectations in that area.

Example answer. "A customer told me that I work extremely fast. He needed the lining in his trousers remade. I told him to come back in three days, and he told me that everyone else took a week. Because of that, he came to me for all of his tailoring needs."
Ryan's Answer
"A customer told me that I work extremely fast. He needed the lining in his trousers remade. I told him to come back in three days, and he told me that everyone else took a week. Because of that, he came to me for all of his tailoring needs."
13.
What are some of the ways you keep up with fashion trends?
Be prepared to talk about trends that you see in fashion magazines. To bolster your professionalism, you can even mention clients' requests and interests. With all answers, try to connect it to a concrete example with a business purpose.

Ryan's Answer
"I keep an eye on Bridal Magazine and when I see different dresses that share a certain quality, I clip out the picture or find it online. I keep these to show my clients what's in and what's out. Sometimes they don't know what they want until they see it. It's my job to help them find it."
14.
There's a thread in a buttonhole that is the wrong color, but it would be very hard for anyone to notice. What do you do?
Show your integrity and sound professional judgment. Speak on the cost to the business in terms of time and money.

Ryan's Answer
"I insist on producing a perfect garment every time. However, I'd take into account the time it would take to correct the buttonhole and also the cost. If there's enough time, and there's no negative impact on the business, I'll correct it. That way nobody can ever come back and say that I didn't do right by them."
15.
You just finished a garment and realized that you made an irreversible mistake; the garment needs to be completely remade and cannot be altered. What do you do?
It's important that your response show that you take responsibility and are willing and able to learn from your mistakes. You'll win over the interviewer if you show humility and a proactive approach to the situation.

Example Answer: "Before taking this mistake to my boss, I'd look very carefully at what I did wrong. I'd ask myself, is there any way to save this? What could I have done differently to avoid this? At what stage could I still have saved the garment?

Then I would take the garment to my boss and apologize for wasting time and money. I'd suggest that we try to sell it as an irregular or put it in a sample sale."
Ryan's Answer
"Before taking this mistake to my boss, I'd look very carefully at what I did wrong. I'd ask myself, is there any way to save this? What could I have done differently to avoid this? At what stage could I still have saved the garment?

Then I would take the garment to my boss and apologize for wasting time and money. I'd suggest that we try to sell it as an irregular or put it in a sample sale."
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