Last weekend, I had an interview at Lush for a Christmas temp position. As this was my first Lush interview, it's safe to say I was frightened out of my wits. But I'd done my research, I'd Googled what to expect from an interview with the brand and went head first into a new experience. But did it work out for me?
My local store usually advertises with a notice in the window when they have vacancies, but this year they decided to advertise on the shopping centre website in order to attract more than 40 applicants, which worked out well for them because we were told we were competing against 500 other people. Some stores will need a CV handed in to a manager in store, which requires instantly showing your interest in working there on top of your natural ability to be friendly and approachable, which is just what Lush is looking for. However, some stores simply ask for a CV and cover letter sent to their email address, which is what I did. Having prepared a speech about how much I've wanted this job for months, I wrote a few paragraphs on how much my previous retail experience has helped me deliver excellent and friendly customer service, but I also put a lot of emphasis on my knowledge of the products due to blogging, and of course my compassion and support for the company's charity-driven causes, for instance animal cruelty, human rights and so on.
It took the manager less than an hour to reply offering me to attend the group interview, so I assume I had done something right. Providing your cover letter stands out and appeals to the company's desires and mission statement, you're onto a winner.
The group interview.
No shrinking violets allowed, I'm afraid. It's not so much dog eat dog but more tiger with loudest stripes gets heard.
I went to my interview dressed in all black, like I normally do, and that's probably where my weakness emerged. I should have worn something more eye-catching and outstanding, but my mum was under the impression this was a perfectly normal job interview and so forced me out of the door in my blazer and skinny jeans. With no black eyeshadow and very little winged liner but my hair still as big as ever, I felt naked, but such is the nature of job interviews - better to look professional as you would during the job than to go extravagantly out of your comfort zone to stand out, right?
I didn't even take photos of my outfit, face and hair, for fear of jinxing it.
There were at least 40 of us put together in one interview slot, apparently the largest they'd had for the entire hiring process. The second I walked into the shop, I made friends with the two girls waiting inside, and we all milled around the shop testing out products while the managers readied the office for us all to move down and get on with the activities for the day.
The Basingstoke store is the nicest Lush I've been in, in the few years I've shopped there, I've always had great conversations with the staff there, they're my kind of people - approachable and happy to natter, even if my nose is covered in glitter from sniffing a bath bomb too closely.
First off at the interview, we all did a 'what's yer name and where'd yer come from' icebreaker while sharing one Lush product we loved and one interesting fact about ourselves. Second, we were separated into groups to create a poster promoting a designated product, and my group was given Ultrabland cleanser, something I'd heard a massive amount about on the blogs for years but had never got my hands on. I have to admit, our group was the best, we even drew a bee and a man holding a tub of Ultrabland with a smile on his face. Cheesy as hell!
Next, we were all given bingo cards and had to fill them in by asking other people in the room facts about themselves, for example 'someone who owns a car', 'someone who has a birthday in the same month as you' and so on.
Finally, we were asked to split into pairs and to 'sell' our partner to the rest of the group, putting forward their best attributes and saying why they should get the job. I teamed up with the first girl I spoke to when I walked into the shop, and we had a great time getting to know each other!
Before I could blink, an hour and a half flew by and it was over, yet I didn't even feel as if I'd had an interview. I'd had a great day meeting new people, I started a conversation with everyone else there, I laughed lots, and best of all, I'd found a new confidence in myself. The managers thanked us for our time and said they'd contact within a week if we were successful, and swiftly apologised that they couldn't respond to everyone because they'd had a record 500 applicants.
Contrary to Internet-wide belief, Lush interviews aren't traumatic, humiliating or degrading - they're active, involving and colourful, just like the job itself. Or at least it was at the Basingstoke store.
Sadly, as I'm writing this a week later, I didn't get the callback for a trial shift. If you follow me on Twitter, you'll have seen how much I had riding on this job, I spent the week glued to my phone, quickly rejecting telemarketing calls in case they blocked up the line, refreshing my emails every five minutes/seconds - this wasn't just a job for me, it was a company I'd have gladly spent years working for, because it's my kind of job, working with people and products I'm passionate about. I have to be honest with you, I'm devastated. Lush is a brand I always felt sure would support me being an alternative girl because they always prioritise individuality and I thought it would be the best retail position for me to be myself in. I have strong views on animal cruelty and the other causes Lush fight for on a daily basis, so I would have loved to have worked for a company that supported the natural rights of humans and this world we live in. Not only am I an advocate of the products on here but also in person, there's hardly a person I've met in the past few years that I haven't gabbed to about the awesomeness of Imogen Rose perfume or Snow Fairy. But there's no use saying this all again now, because this is everything I said in my cover letter, I guess my interview just wasn't good enough.
Perhaps my hair wasn't big enough? Perhaps my eyeliner wasn't heavy enough? Perhaps I didn't praise the products enough? Perhaps I spoke to people too much? I could pick holes in my performance all day, but I don't really know what I did wrong, except for not standing out from 500 other people.
Do I apply again the next time they have a vacancy? Do I risk putting myself through this again? Do I let them see how determined I am, just to be shot down again? I don't have any answers right now, I'm still not on planet earth just yet.
I've considered a full-scale boycott of the brand, but I know full well I can't go a day without my Imperialis. I'll no doubt have to show my face in the store soon, especially since my Rub Rub Rub shower scrub is on it's last legs, but I can't see it being an awkward situation, I forgive easily.
Poker face Ali, poker face.