How To Ace Your Interview

Read Time: 11 Minutes
Expertise Area: All Career Fields
Career Stage: Recently Licensed

The interview process in the beauty and wellness industry are a little different than most since technical skill plays a role. However, interview skills are interview skills: they all require active listening, critical thinking, and preparation.

The interview process for a service provider is usually a two-part process with a face-to-face interview first and then if all goes well, you will be invited back for a technical interview. During your technical interview you will perform a service or services to demonstrate your skills and abilities. Sometimes salons/spas will schedule both interviews for the same day, however, that is not the norm.

Planning and preparation are essential to acing your interviews. They will provide you with invaluable knowledge about the salon or spa and the people who work there. Remember, you are interviewing your potential employer as much as they are interviewing you. With due diligence and effort, landing your dream job is just an interview away.

Before You Begin Interviewing – Know Yourself

You have passion and career goals. You have received excellent training and have demonstrated some proficiency in your field. You may have even begun to practice your knowledge and explore professional networks. These are the tools that build your future.

Of course, it’s normal to have doubts. Everyone, at some point, felt the same way as you do now. There are countless job seekers who feel like they're missing something (skills, support, time, money, etc.) who go on to achieve fabulous success and, more importantly, establish themselves in satisfying careers. For example, Paul Mitchell's co-founder, John Paul DeJoria, lived in his van at one time. High school drop-out and single mother, Paula Kent, worked as a gas station attendant before eventually founding Redken. And Jan Arnold started CND, Creative Nail Design, out of her father's garage.

Everyone has challenges. It’s your ability to overcome your own challenges that will ultimately decide whether you achieve your dreams. Too often job seekers become overly focused on what they lack only to be caught in a catch-22 of negativity. The perfect example: "You need experience to get the job, but you need a job to get experience?" You may understand this is a negative way to see things, but you probably still wonder "What can I do?" The answer is to focus on what you do have.

Take pride in your accomplishments. No one else achieved them quite like you did. It is essential you own this positive attitude because if you do not value what you uniquely offer to the world, no employer will either. To refresh your outlook and energize your job search, try the following self-assessment steps.

Identify Your Best Qualities

What do you like about yourself? What do you do better than anyone else? Which accomplishments are you most proud? How did you overcome the challenges to achieve these events? Look at your resume and refer to it frequently. It’s a great reminder of your unique qualifications. If you don’t have one, then check out our guide to preparing your job application. A skills checklist is another resource for increasing awareness of your abilities.

Know Your Preferences

What are your career goals and values? Determine what job characteristics are most important to you and prioritize them, separating the must-haves from the mere wants. Be sure to plan at least five years in advance as that is the average time it will take you to establish yourself. For example, salary and benefits may be important now, but will it still outweigh the need for expressing your creativity in the long run? Keep in mind that most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in 3 years.

Determine the Added Value

What are the best qualities you bring to your potential employer? In the employment market, this means you will want to combine your research with your best qualities to determine how your targeted salons and spas will benefit by hiring your unique qualifications. During the research phase, make sure to look at their Yelp reviews, Instagram, and Website. If you identify issues or challenges the salon or spa is experiencing, then, design a job search campaign that demonstrates how you fill their needs.

Remove Obstacles

There are generally two types of obstacles new beauty professionals need to overcome in their job searches. Internal obstacles are personal shortcomings (e.g., lack of confidence or unprofessional behavior) and external obstacles are outside barriers (e.g., poor economy or low demand) that can derail you from achieving your career goals. By identifying potential barriers in advance, you can also develop strategies for overcoming those barriers and thereby reduce the likelihood that these obstacles will become insurmountable problems.

Now that you have completed your self-assessment, you can prepare to present your abilities to potential employers. If you have difficulties developing your action plan, be sure to seek help from someone in the industry that is successful. You’re not in this alone; make sure to connect with your support network and see if they can help you grow.

How to Prepare For Your In-Person Interview

Landing a job at a great salon, spa, or shop can be an intimidating process. Chances are if the business you’re applying to has a rock-solid reputation, there are probably loads of beauty & wellness professionals applying for jobs there too.

Here are simple tips that always stand out when trying to gain a competitive edge over other applicants.

Do Your Research

If you really want to impress your future employer or colleagues, you’ll want to know as much about them as possible prior to meeting them and the only way you can know this information is through research. It doesn’t hurt to know a little about the business’ history and reputation. A quick search for a website, online reviews, or social media profiles will tell you a lot about the vibe of a salon before you even walk in the door. If you want to get stealthy, schedule an appointment for a blowout or haircut and see the salon in action. This will help you to fine-tune your interview strategy to score the most points.

Bring A Printed Resume

Sure, you submitted your resume when you applied for the job, but make sure you have a printed copy of it for the day of your interview. Most salon, spa, and shop owners are very busy people. Having a quick reminder on hand of your experience and skills is helpful when you meet face-to-face.

Show You’re Eager to Work

Showing up early is always a great idea. Remember, this is a job interview, not a dinner party. Fashionably late does not apply here. Look the part of a person whose job it is to give professional beauty advice. The great news is that we are beauty professionals, not bankers, so we do have some leeway. If you’re not sure about your outfit, ask yourself - would I wear it to the beach or to a club? If the answer is yes, then don’t wear it to an interview. Invest in classic black pants or a skirt with a few classic tops. Keep it simple; you will have time once you are hired to show off your amazing fashion sense. Remember, people are attracted to enthusiasm. And at the very least, say please and thank you. Sticking to these guidelines will help you to make a good first impression.

Prepare to Ask (and Answer) Questions

It’s difficult to prepare for specific questions since most salon and spa owners ask completely different ones. During interviews, the hiring manager is looking to see if you can hold a basic conversation with a stranger. They are looking for enthusiasm and a history of a hard work ethic. Make sure to have a few questions prepared for the hiring manager. Keep a notebook with you during the interview process to keep your thoughts, questions and answers structured and organized. It is best to ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions allow you to gather as much information as possible.

Close-ended question requires yes, and no answers and they can stall a conversation. An example of a close-ended question is, “Do you have continuing education?” Instead, ask a question that begs extra details, like, “What type of continuing education do you offer?” Do you see the difference? One requires explanation and the other one requires a yes or no. When asking open-ended questions, think of Who, What, When, Where, and How.

Here are some questions you can ask at your next interview. Feel free to add to the list.

  • What does your training program involve?
  • What outside community activities does the salon participate in?
  • What is the salon /spa mission and value statement?
  • What expectations do you have for service and retail goals?
  • When are expecting to fill this position?
  • What are the benchmarks one must meet in order to be promoted?

Follow Up

Send a thank you card, especially if you’re serious about wanting the job. Following up after an interview shows you’re grateful and will help you stand out amongst other candidates. You can send it snail mail, which is always a nice gesture since it is becoming a lost form of communication. Another option is to send via email with an online platform like Paperless Post.

How to Prepare for Your Technical Interview

Many salons or spas will ask you to perform a technical interview as part of their interview process. The purpose is to access your technical abilities. Keep in mind while they're paying attention to your technical skill level, they are also looking to see if you have the soft skills it takes to make it in the industry. These include sanitation/cleanliness, customer service, level of confidence/body posture, product education, and home care.

Preparing for your technical interview is as important as preparing for your in-person interview. Here are some steps to make sure you walk into the interview feeling confident.

Ask Key Questions

Part of your preparation is asking the hiring manager key questions to learn exactly what you need the day of your interview. You can add these questions to your list of your open-ended questions.

  • Do you need to provide a model? Male or Female? Long hair or short hair?
  • What type of service(s) they would like for you to perform? Often you might be asked to perform a haircut and a chemical service. If they say they want to see you do a haircut, ask them what type of haircut. Inquire beyond your own tools, what you should bring. Will you be able to utilize their back-bar products, or should you bring your own?

Do a Practice Session

If you are providing your own model, create a pre-plan together for how you will execute the services. Do at least one practice session by styling your model's hair prior to the interview. This provides you with an opportunity to know their hair and prepare you for the big day.

Gather All Your Professional Tools

Take the time to clean everything and place your tools in a nice bag or travel case. Don’t forget to place a few band-aids in there too (just in case!)

Plan Your Outfit

Pay close attention to the salon's dress code in your in-person interview. You will want to dress for your technical interview the same way. This can help plant the seed that you do fit into the salon or spa culture, and you are already part of the team. Again, keep it simple, the last thing you want to do during your technical interview is to be fussing with your clothes.

On the day of your technical interview, try to relax. Give yourself positive reinforcement by reminding yourself how you've set yourself up for success. To help ease your anxiety and make sure you arrive on time, you and your model should travel together to the interview. This way no one can get lost and you both arrive at the same time, ready to go. Plan on arriving at the salon or spa at least 20 minutes early. This will allow you to get settled in and help you focus on the task at hand and get you into the provider-client mindset. If you are providing your own model, it’s important to treat your model as a client, not as a friend. Pretend they are a million-dollar client, how would you treat them? The team is paying close attention to your communication and customer service skills. It’s important to be yourself and always keep it professional, even when you think no one is watching. When you finish your technical interview, make sure you clean your work area and pack up your personal belongings. You might even want to ask your model to wait in the waiting area while you finish up.

If you’re still feeling anxious about your in-person or technical interviews, just remember that there is no such thing as being too prepared. If you're extra nervous, reach out to friends, family, and your beauty network to see if anyone you're connected with has gone through interviews at the same business ask them to share what worked and what didn’t. Most importantly, believe in your abilities. You’ve got this! If you feel confident, the team and the hiring manager will see that.

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