Confessions of a Victoria's Secret employee

Thursday, 12 January 2017

We've all dreamt about becoming a Victoria's Secret angel... But is being an employee in their stores anywhere near as glamorous?!

Confessions of a Victoria's Secret employee


Disclaimer: I do not intend to cause any offence or bad-mouth the brand. I am still totally supportive of Victoria's Secret and continue to shop there. The aim of the post is to give a fun little insight into working for one of their stores and the hard work and dedication that goes into maintaining the stores and keeping the brand as luxurious as it is!

So you may or may not know, but I used to work for Victoria's Secret! I've had some experience with working in lingerie stores before and when the opportunity came up, I thought 'what do I have to lose'?

The interview process

I know that before I go for an interview, I scour the internet to find out what kind of interview process that company has so I can prepare for it. So just in case anyone reading has managed to bag an interview, I can tell you a bit about how mine went!

I had a phone interview at first and spoke to a lovely lady who was in charge of recruitment. She was so friendly and upbeat it made the whole thing a dream! There were no trick questions; just wanted to know a bit about me, my experience and also what availability to expect from me. I was then invited to an assessment centre the next week.

This was basically a group interview. I love group interviews - there's less pressure on you as an individual but it's also super easy to make yourself stand out from everyone else. I did a little research beforehand and found out some of the things that would go down at the assessment centre.

There was only about 8 of us in the interview which was nice, along with 3 ladies that worked at the store who were overseeing the interview. We were split into two teams and there were some Victoria's Secret & Pink items on the table in front of us. We were given a customer profile and asked, as a team, to select a few items that we would suggest to the customer and why. This was quite tricky, especially if you aren't totally familiar with the brand itself, but they seemed to be looking more for your ability to sell across to different departments (bras, beauty and sleepwear, for example) and your ability to tailor a shopping experience to a certain type of customer.

The next task was a few generic interview questions, that we were asked one by one in our teams. This was pretty easy, especially if you've done a fair few interviews like me! I was lucky as I had lingerie experience on my side and made me stand out from the other candidates.

The final task was the one I was dreading the most and something that I'd never done before. We were each given a random piece of stationery and had to give an on-the-spot sales pitch. I'd rehearsed a speech in the event I was given a stapler but to my absolute horror, the first girl got the stapler! Drama.

Luckily for me, the first 5 or so girls didn't do all that well - the nerves got to us all! Once it got to my turn I felt less pressure as I don't think anyone did a perfect sales pitch. I had to 'sell' a calculator and in my opinion I did pretty well!! 

That was it for the interview - it was a lot less stressful than you think. There was also a bit of paperwork and filling in an availability sheet for how much you could work if you were successful. I think I got the job offer a week or so later, so it was all pretty fast!

The induction process

The induction process was one of the most intense that I've ever done. It was a full day of training videos and quizzes; it felt really overwhelming, as there is so much product knowledge to memorise and it was kind of thrown at you all at once. There's a training book you took notes in then took home to learn.

As part of the induction day, we also had to go and get a bra measurement and try on as many bras as humanly possible. VS are really big on you trying out their products for yourself so you can give personal recommendations to customers. 

The rest of the day was spent shadowing staff members on the shop floor to get an idea of how to sell and how to approach customers. For me, this wasn't super helpful as I was actually hired as a Sales & Support Generalist - so my job's focus wasn't necessarily to sell, but more stock room and delivery based. 

The perks

One of the best parts of working for VS, hands down, is the employee perks. I've never worked for a company that gave you so much free stuff!

The employee discount was 30% which is pretty damn good. You can't use it along with other in-store offers, but you literally can't grumble at such a discount!

There was also something called 'gratis' which was usually available every month. Gratis would either be a buy-in, so items you could buy that were super discounted, or actually free items. There was monthly training and questionnaires that had to be completed in order to be eligible for gratis, but it was an amazing incentive.

When you start there as a new employee, you also received a 'new hire' gratis (which I FORGOT TO GET)! With this gratis you literally got a free bra, sports bra, perfume... Pretty much everything that they sold. 

The employee experience

As I mentioned earlier, I wasn't actually hired as a sales or bra fitting specialist, so I didn't experience a ton of what it's like to work on the shop floor.

As sales and support, I had to process delivery, do daily replen of the shop floor, standards and recovery; mainly back-of-house stuff. 

Delivery shifts were super early shifts, usually starting at 6am. There would be stacks upon stacks of delivery boxes that had to be processed before the end of your shift. There was a processing sheet where you had to log every box you processed, but the catch was that every box had a specific time on them that it had to be completed in. This box time was shortened depending how many people were in your team. For example, a really big panty box would generally be around 5 hours - but if there were two of you, then you only had 2.5 hours to complete it.

It was really fast-paced but delivery shifts were my favourite. As it started so early, my lunch break came around just as the store was actually opening and meant that I was half way through my day already. 

Processing delivery was a LOT of folding panties, security tagging bras and steaming robes and apparel. It was repetitive but the team we had was AMAZING and made the day go so quickly. It was really difficult to keep up with the pace as a newbie at first, but once I found my flow it was nice and easy.

Replenishment (replen) shifts were my least favourite as they were so stressful! It's basically filling up stock on the shop floor, but they expected you to do it so quickly it was untrue. I had to go section by section across the shop floor and judge what needed bringing down from the stockroom and filling up. It was fun if the shop floor was quiet, because you could get your job done uninterrupted. Trying to replen on a busy day was just nightmarish.

Sales & support are quite lucky as we didn't have massive sales targets, however management are all over you like a rash if you aren't making your sales. I think my sales target was £20 an hour - which in theory isn't much; if you can sell one bra every hour you are practically doubling that target! The pressure came because they don't want you just to sell one bra - their mantra was to sell deep and sell across - aka, sell a bra, then matching panties, then a perfume, then a sports bra, then finally some sleepwear! It's a lot to try and convince someone to buy.

On top of that, you had to ensure they remembered your name as the only way the sale was attributed to you was at the till, when the girls on checkout would ask who helped them. If they didn't remember your name, then your sale was lost. It can get pretty catty down there with people stealing your sales!

Recovery standards

This is a heads up to anyone who shops at VS or Pink and shamelessly leaves the shop floor a mess. I know the staff are paid to tidy up after you, but let me tell you how much effort goes into the standards!

Photo: Twitter

Panty drawers. You know how they're all folded nice and neatly? We have to fold those individually, then ROYGBIV them. ROYGBIV is putting every item in rainbow colour order - this goes for bras and most apparel. It looks so amazing from a merchandising perspective, so I totally know why this is the rule. But it takes so long! I'll admit, I don't even work there anymore and my wardrobe is still ROYGBIV!

I spent an entire 8 hour shift tidying the panty bar once because I was folding them individually and people would just come straight up to you and start ripping things out of the drawer. Please be more considerate because I seriously feel that pain!

***

Overall, it wasn't a terrible experience, but it was one of the most high-pressure retail jobs I've had (and I've had a few!) I thought it might be interesting for you to know what it's like to work at such a luxurious store - so this is just a tiny insight into my experience! Like I said, I was more into merchandising and stock stuff, so didn't spend a lot of time doing the sales or bra-fitting side of things. 

I miss my delivery team, that's for sure!



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