Let’s say you’re interviewing for a new salon job. The owner has finished with all her questions for you, then she asks: “Do you have any questions for me?” The correct answer is “yes,” says nail tech, blogger, and author Tina Alberino. In her book, The Beauty Industry Survival Guide, Alberino supplies a list of 14 questions you should know the answer to before hiring on.
1. “How do you classify staff for tax purposes?” The answer to this question may determine whether or not the interview continues. If the owner classifies her staff as “independent contractors,” get out of there.
2. “How is your compensation structured?” If the salon is commission-based, find out what percentage it offers. Your next question to a commission-based salon owner needs to be, “So, you must track hours then and weigh the minimum wage against the commission to ensure FLSA compliance, right?”
3. “Do you provide detailed pay stubs?” Asking this question helps to gauge whether or not the salon owner values transparency. Remember, owners have no reason to withhold this information.
4. “Do you charge product fees?” Unless you are a booth renter or freelancer, the owner supplies product. However, many owners try to deduct the expense of product prior to calculating the commission. I strongly advise avoiding any owner who engages in this practice.
5. “Do you participate in group discount deals and if so, what is your policy regarding payment for those services?” You don’t want to show up to work on the first day to find out that the owner ran a Groupon for your services, sold 1,500 of them already, and only pays 50% of the take after Groupon’s fees. If the owner does participate in group coupon deals, explain that you will not participate in them unless you are compensated for the full service value, not the discounted value.
6. “Can I see the job description?” Any owner worth her title will have detailed job descriptions prepared for all positions. Job descriptions deliver a clear understanding of what the owner expects of you.
7. “Do you have an employee handbook I can read through?” The owner should have no problem giving you a handbook so you can review the rules and policies.
8. “Can I review your employment contract?” Most owners utilize employment contracts at this point, but if the interviewer doesn’t, request a written job offer or employment agreement. If they do require you to sign an agreement, ask if you can bring it home to look it over and make certain you’ll be provided with a signed copy.
9. “Are any benefits offered?” How many sick days or vacation days are you allotted? Do they offer medical insurance or retirement plans? Not a lot of salons offer benefits, but some do.
10. “Do you offer continuing education?” Salons that regularly schedule continuing education workshops are the ones that deserve serious consideration.
11. “Do you advertise regularly?” Find out how this owner maintains her visibility.
12. “Does the salon have enough business to justify hiring me?” Let the owner know that you are motivated to build, but you do have bills to pay. If the salon doesn’t have enough traffic to ensure you’ll be receiving a solid paycheck, you aren’t interested.
13. “How is the salon’s client retention rate?” The salon’s client retention rate provides insight into how good the salon and the staff are at keeping the new clients they obtain.
14. “How does the staff get along?”/”How do you handle staff conflicts?” Explain to the owner that you are making a career decision. You do not want to waste her time or yours by working in a salon plagued with conflict.