Here are some pieces of advice on how to put together your portfolio, what to say during your interview, what to bring and what to wear, plus where to look for salon jobs.
During the Interview
1. Be sure to arrive a little before the appointment. It’s always better to wait outside and take a minute to compose yourself than it is to rush when you’re running late. Try to give yourself plenty of time for traffic.
2. Don’t chew gum, play with your hair, bite your nails, or fidget. And do not dress casually, eg. jeans or provocative clothes. At a minimum, adhere to a smart, casual attire.
3. Shake hands with people and look them in the eye. It shows confidence and openness.
4. In the interview, relax, but use your best manners. Remember to just breathe when you feel nervous.
5. Discuss what you have to offer the salon, such as energy and a fresh perspective.
6. Research the salon at which you are applying by perusing its website, online reviews, etc. Discuss various aspects of the salon with the person interviewing you, as that knowledge is an expression of interest and sincerity.
7. Keep the conversation professional, upbeat, and to-the-point. Don’t ramble and don’t criticize teachers or previous employers. Do not discuss any personal issues or political/religious views.
8. Be prepared to let the salon owner know why you left your previous job or career. If you left on less-than-optimal terms, cast the situation in a positive light, such as: It wasn’t the right place for me, or I needed more support to grow.
9. If you have to do nails during the interview, make sure your tools and products are neat and in a professional-looking toolbox. (If you have to bring a model, she should look as professional as you do.)
10. Be prepared to discuss your career goals and expectations for this job, such as mentoring or continuing education. It is okay to ask what the work environment at the salon or spa is like and what type of products are used and retailed.
11. Don’t appear to be only interested in the money. Most owners feel it is acceptable to inquire about how the company compensates, but to wait until the second interview to discuss how much (see page 14 for information on different compensation systems).
12. When discussing work hours, try to be flexible and open to the needs of the salon, but forthright about your own limitations. If you have to be limited on certain days, try to offer more time elsewhere on the schedule.
Common Interview Questions
Be prepared to answer more than just “yes” or “no” questions. Practice your responses to these interview questions by role-playing with classmates or a friend.
> What service do you find the most enjoyable to do? Which is the least?
> How will you market yourself and draw in your clientele?
> Why is it important to get manicures and pedicures?
> How personable are you with your clients?
> What will your reaction be if a client says she doesn’t like your work and wants a refund?
> Are you willing to promote others in the salon and how?
> If you were experiencing a conflict with a fellow employee, how would you handle the situation?
> What are the possible consequences of using dirty implements?
> What are your strengths and weaknesses?
> How long does it take you to do a full set of gel? What about a full set of acrylic?
Next page: Where to Look and How You'll Know If It's a Good Fit