Interviewing 101: Make a Lasting Impression

Lauren Salapatek | July 10, 2011 | 10:19 AM
So you’ve got an interview coming up, but you feel unprepared. You’re not sure what to wear, say or bring with you. Have no worries because FIRST CHAIR is going to tell you everything you need to know on getting prepared, shining in your interview and scoring the job of your dreams! (photo credit: Getty Images)
Photo By Getty Images

So you’ve got an interview coming up, but you feel unprepared. You’re not sure what to wear, say or bring with you. Have no worries because FIRST CHAIR is going to tell you everything you need to know on getting prepared, shining in your interview and scoring the job of your dreams!

The Interviewing Process

Every salon has a different interviewing process. Some salons have a traditional approach, starting with a preliminary interview designed to screen out unsuitable candidates from a larger pool. These interviews may include questions about education, knowledge, past experiences, accomplishments and interests.

A sub-stage of a preliminary interview may also include a phone interview. For these types of interviews, be organized, have your resume on hand, and keep your voice energetic and positive, since the interviewer can’t read your expressions.

Once you’ve passed the preliminary part of the interviewing process, you’ll progress to a second interview, where the interviewer will make a final selection. At this point, they have a good feel for you but need to close the deal. This interview may include questions directly relating to the job, how you would handle a specific situation, and also to see if you are a good fit with the other employees.

Acing the Audition

Many salons incorporate creative practices into their interviewing processes. The most common is the technical audition. Depending on your specialty, a salon owner may ask you to complete a hair cut and color or a massage/facial/ pedicure.

At Habitude Salons and Spas in Seattle, Washington, stylist and spa technician candidates must complete their technical tests with flying colors. “If they are a customer service candidate, their technical is to come in on a busy Saturday and open the door and greet clients,” says owner Inez Gray. Technical auditions are not the only way salons interview potential employees.

Blo Salon in Raleigh, North Carolina, applied the speed dating concept to the process. In one hiring scenario, Blo invited nine applicants to come to the salon with their portfolios and resumes. Each candidate was greeted by a team member and escorted to stations set up around the salon. “We let each candidate know they had eight minutes to spend with the team member they were with,” says owner Bryan Nunes.

“When they heard the music in the salon turn down, they were to stop immediately and rotate to their left .” This type of interviewing format allowed each candidate to meet each team member. At the end of the “speed-dating,” all the scores were tallied and the top six scores were invited back for a second interview.

Qualifying Qualities

Despite the kind of interview you eventually get, whether traditional or creative, your employer will be looking out for specific qualities in your personality and work they like.

“Do your homework about the salon you are interviewing with. It shows you are interested in more than a job,” says Nunes. “Go over your resume and application for spelling errors. Be on ti me. Ask if you can come in and shadow someone for the day—and then follow through with it.” Competition can be fierce, so make sure when you are interviewing you make a good lasting impression.

Gray says in her salon’s interviews they listen less to what you say and more to what they see. “Your nonverbal communication, your confidence, your look, all of these things tell us more about you than anything you ever say could,” says Gray. “Be humble, but confident, tell me what you are going to bring to the table. Why should I hire you? Don’t wait for me to ask!”

Gray also advises interviewers to remember the moment you walk in the salon until the moment you leave, everyone is interviewing you. “We have had great formal interviews with candidates before but after the fact learned they were not a fit because of something they said to a client during their technical or to a desk person on the way out the door,” says Gray.

Besides trying to impress a potential employer, you also need to think to yourself, “Do I want to work here?” Remember, the most important thing is choosing a salon where you feel comfortable. “You can feel it from the beginning based on how you are handled on the phone, how you feel when you walk in, how the team works together or not, and how happy and harmonious the environment appears the environment appears to be,” says Jón Snetman, owner of Jón Alan Salon in Nashville, Tennessee. Also, consider what the salon will offer you. Does it have education programs? Is it active in the community? Does the salon hold any special fundraisers, events or fashion shows during the year? These are some things you may want to ask before you accept a job. The more opportunities you have for advancement in your career, the more it will benefit you in the long run.

Checklist to look over before your interview:

  • Know the time and location of the interview. Arrive 15 minutes early!
  • Three copies of your resume (just in case!)
  • Portfolio of your previous work. An extra folder, notepad and pen (to hold extra materials and take notes)
  • List of references
  • List of questions to ask the interviewer
  • Lookin’ good?

Hair to Wear: Styles to Get the Job

It is a stylist’s job to be fashion forward and up-to-date on what’s hot in the beauty industry. Stylists going on an interview wear their hair in a way that shows they are trend-savvy and that they can deliver the same kind of styles to their clients. If you are in a pickle about what hair to wear to your first interview, take a look at these ideas offered by Teri Dougherty, stylist, educator and creator of, a multi-media website for industry professionals.



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