What salon owners look for in a salon job interview

Web Editor | July 10, 2011 | 10:11 AM

From the MODERN SALON Media Library

FirstChair editors and the team at our parent group, MODERN SALON Media, have asked many salon and spa owners what they look for in hiring and keeping new talent. Here's a quick review of our most frequent questions and a digest of owners' answers:

Q. What do you look for when interviewing and hiring new stylists?
A. Job candidates often say the same things, so we focus more on attitude. Primarily, we look for willingness. We want someone who will try new things and do what we think will work for them.

Q. What are some of the questions you ask?
A. Some of the basics, such as the applicants' strengths and weaknesses, but what we really want to know is how they plan to build a clientele. If they tell us they will pass out their cards and talk to people, we might ask when they last did that, or if they ever have. Or we might ask if they'd be willing to do that now. We've even asked before for a candidate to go out during an interview and recruit a model for a free service. It can be tough to do, but they need to be willing to try.

Q. Who finally gets the job?
A. If an applicant has the right attitude and shows us they will work, they get the job. When we don't have openings, we'll ask stylists to check back in six months. Some of our most successful stylists are those who continued to come back and were eventually hired.

Q. Who are you most likely to reject?
A. Applicants who appear disinterested or unwilling, or display an attitude of expectancy. They want you to do it for them. We can provide opportunities, but they have to be willing to take advantage of them.

Q. Which stylists keep their jobs with your salon?
A. Our training program is intensive. Usually, someone who isn't right for the job will drop out before completing the program. After their training, our stylists work as assistants in addition to having their own chair time. But if they don't recruit models or clients, they lose that opportunity and have to work supporting our other successful stylists.

Q. What are some of the other mistakes new stylists make when they interview or start a new job?
A. People just out of school often make the same mistakes, such as dressing inappropriately for the salon. Or they may show up (to the interview) looking great and are never seen that way again. Dwelling on personal needs can be a problem, especially when they ask for education and training and then never show up for it after they are hired. And they need to be prepared to discuss their abilities and goals at the interview, instead of just reciting their resumes.

Q. Do you have any other advice for applicants?
Have a solid plan for how you will work with the salon to develop your clientele. We realize you need to develop your skills. Listen during the interview and don't give canned answers. Show you can build relationships and rapport. Ask questions and find out how you can meet the salon's needs. Send a thank-you note. Make sure your own hair cut and hair color are fresh.

Q. What do you recommend to stylists who get the job?
A. Make your job your first priority. Arrive 15 minutes early and stay a half-hour late. Take on additional work and assignments. Get involved with every promotional event at your salon, without being asked. Bring in models after hours to work on techniques that need improvement. And remember, you haven't really arrived anywhere simply because you were hired. You are just on your way.

Original text excerpted from the "Getting Started" series by Patricia Hospy, D.C.

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