Ann Taylor Brand Recruits for Perfect 'Fit' ANN INC.'s Christine Lourenco / Credit: Photo by: Melanie Acevedo

With approximately 950 stores nationwide and a planned expansion into Canada this year, ANN INC., the company you might know better for its Ann Taylor and LOFT brands, has tremendous opportunities for talented associates. Recruiting associates and retaining talent is a challenge that requires a thoughtful and multipronged approach.

That's why the company has embarked on a full-fledged branded marketing campaign, not to promote its products, but to recruit and develop associates. The campaign, aptly called, "Fit Is Everything," combines social media marketing, digital recruiting and a focus on finding the right employees for the right job. The company currently employs more than 20,000 people.

Christine Lourenco, director of human resources operations for ANN INC., said the goal of the program, which uses a variety of social media tools to recruit, including an upcoming YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest careers page, is to help potential associates  discover what working at ANN INC. is really like.

"We want there to be an emotional connection with the company and its brands," said Lourenco. "Employment branding allows people to find their fit."

To do this, the company focuses on sharing its core values with potential associates  and helps them understand what the company is like, beyond the pay and benefits, Lourenco said. "Our associates have truly embodied our values and behaviors which helps clarify their roles in pursuit of our company purpose 'inspiring and connecting with women to put their best selves forward every day.'”

Lourenco is in a unique position to observe how job candidates prepare for and present themselves in interviews. She shares her expertise on how to prepare for a job interview and what job interview mistakes to avoid.

BusinessNewsDaily: What's the most important thing a person should do to prepare for a job interview?

Christine Lourenco: Practice articulating what you are going to say about your background.  You can only put so much on a resume.  Be prepared to give real-life examples of work you have done, projects you have worked on and accomplishments you can highlight. Know and be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Preparation in advance helps you be more articulate and concise in an interview and helps you collect your thoughts and be prepared for questions that may come your way.

BND: What's the most common mistake you see on a resume? 

C.L.: Typos. With spell-check, you shouldn’t have them.  Attention to detail is important in any role and especially when your resume is representing you and your work, you want to make sure you are putting your best foot forward.   

BND: What's the most common mistake people make in interviews? 

C.L.: Not preparing. Make sure you take the time to research a company.  Even if you already know the brand, check out their website or Google them.  It's great if you are current on the most recent information about an organization you are looking to join and shows you care about where you work enough to ensure it’s not only a great company, but a great company for you. Dressing professionally is also important.  Wear something that boosts your confidence.  Always looks professional and neat.  Regardless of the dress code at the organization, the first impression you make on an employer is the most important one.

 BND: What kind of questions do you like to hear people ask you in interviews? 

C.L.: I like to hear candidates ask why I have stayed here.  Tenure and engagement are important to employers and understanding what makes people happy and stay at a place from the people working there will help a candidate in making a decision if this is a right fit for them.  I also like when people ask about what values an organization has.  Values of an individual should align with the values of  your company.  We all spend a lot of time at work and you want to work somewhere you feel good about.  For ANN INC., our values are staying connected to women (our client), embracing fashion first, putting our best selves forward everyday and honoring our full lives.  These are values we all embrace, both personally and professionally.  I know I believe in what ANN INC. does and in our purpose. My own core values and behaviors are aligned with both my leader and ANN INC.

Another thing we like to hear is if the person has taken the time to learn as much as they can about us.  For ANN INC., did they take the time to visit our stores recently?  The stores' organization is the heart of our business and why we are all here so spending time in our stores, or researching us online or talking to our associates shows if an applicant is truly passionate about us, about fashion and about women.  We are here to make clients happy, make women feel beautiful and confident … so having that client approach is important in our business.  Asking questions about the stores and/or sharing their experience during a visit are a bonus.

BND: What's the best way to follow up after an interview? 

C.L.: A thank you note via email or paper is still a great touch.  It shows a candidate appreciated our time as much as we appreciate theirs.  It is also important to ask the interviewer how they should follow up with them.  Every company is different and handles the recruiting process differently so ask the source directly  what follow-up approach is best.  You certainly don’t want to be too aggressive or be perceived as not aggressive enough.

BND: What should someone do if they don't get the job, but really want to work for a company? Try again?

C.L.:  Networking is such a big part of the corporate world.  Sometimes, the stars just don’t align and someone else had a better background, but it doesn’t mean you are not great talent.  Staying in touch, connecting on LinkedIn with people you met, etc., are all great ways to maintain your network.  Definitely apply again as well and keep in touch with your recruiter to show that you are serious about working for the company and want to keep trying to get your foot in the door.

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