Do you find hiring talented salon employees one of your hardest challenges?

You don’t need me to tell you that we’re suffering from a desperate shortage of skilled candidates in our industry.

So when an experienced applicant answers your job advert it’s tempting to bite their hand off at the interview.


Two weeks on, and you’re already regretting your hasty decision. They are constantly late, bicker with your team and rub salon clients up the wrong way.


12 warning signs when interviewing new salon staff

In this salon business post I look at the clues potential troublemakers let slip during their interview and how to spot them.

Are interview nerves the root cause of their behaviour or is this a recruitment red flag you should not ignore.


1. Screen salon applicants pre-interview

How many times has your heart sunk as a candidate walked through the salon door for an interview? You just know the next 30 minutes are a going to be a complete waste of your time.

Save yourself time, money and hassle by pre-screening job applicants with a short phone call before offering an interview.

You’ll weed out the unimpressive, weak candidates and those who aren’t the right cultural fit for your salon business.


2. Unreliable and uncommitted from the start

You suggest a choice of interview dates, but there is always an excuse for why they can’t make it. Work, transport or baby-sitters. If candidates are difficult to nail down for the interview your inner alarm bells should ring (loudly).

Cancelling their interview at the last minute with a far-fetched or weak excuse should also put you on your guard. If you offer them a job are they going to be the problem staff who call in “sick” on a regular basis and prove unreliable?

And then there are the applicants who arrive late, without as much as a call or text to let you know. If they are running late for this, an important career interview, then you’re right to have suspicions over their time-keeping on client appointments once in post.


3. Bad mouthing their current employer in the interview

They may have just cause to bitch, but it is still inexcusable and unprofessional behaviour to criticise their current salon during their interview.

Are they going to be doing the same in your salon, behind your back? Constantly fault-finding.

Are you in danger of hiring a whinger whose negativity affects your team culture and offends your salon clients?


4. Interview body language speaks volumes

It takes just 7 seconds to make that first impression.

If they don’t impress you at interview, then what chance do they have of wowing your clients?

When we communicate we use a combination of words, tone, body language and other non verbal signs (like dress).


Do they look you in the eye and offer to shake hands? Or look at the ground, arms hanging limply by their sides and mumble? What impact would this greeting have on a new salon client?

During the interview do they appear disinterested and look around the salon as you speak to them. Clients expect 100% attention from their stylist or therapist, not someone who appears disinterested and bored.

Is sloppy body language letting your salon team down? Are clients getting the wrong message? You might like these ideas and tips for a training session on powerful non verbal body language.


5. You’re so vain (I don’t want you in my salon)

Of course you want self-assured confident employees, however, when their talk revolves entirely around themselves you need to decide whether it’s interview nerves or they are naturally arrogant and fond of bragging.

How are your salon team going to react to an egotistical loud-mouth in their midst? Unimpressed I guess. It may cause amusement to start with, but this will soon turn to irritation and younger team members may well feel intimidated and de-motivated. This blog post “How to stop bullying crippling your salon or spa business” has helpful practical tips on combating bullying in salon.

And what about your salon clients? Will they enjoy an appointment with someone who is full of themselves and pompous?

Ever said, “Someone with experience and a following” is just what this salon needs right now? Be very careful of what you wish for. This blog post explains why.


6. Not taken trouble with their interview appearance

This might seem an obvious one, but we’re in the business of making people look and feel good.

If an applicant doesn’t make an effort with their own appearance now, what are they going to turn up to your salon looking like?

Are they going to take kindly to abiding by your salon dress code? Probably not.

What will this lack of concern and interest say to your clients? Who wants to go to a dowdy hairdresser or a nail technician with chipped nails? I don’t.


7. Listen to their stories and learn

Always include some behavioural type questions about how they have handled clients and salon situations in the past.

Listen carefully. Their responses will tell you whether there are flexible, resourceful self-starters who will slot into your salon team with ease, or needy, high maintenance individuals who expect everything to be done for them and dislike change.

Enough said.


8. Interview stories reveal true attitude

If they boast about outwitting their boss and getting the better of colleagues alarm bells should ring about whether they will show a lack of respect for your management team and salon culture.


9. Lack of personality and communication skills

Being a successful beauty therapist or a hair stylist means building strong relationships with clients and dealing with quite intimate situations.

If a candidate still seems painfully shy, introverted and timid by the end of the interview how are they going to cope with a new client booked in for a bikini wax or a body massage?

Yes, they need to be good listeners, but they also need to feel confident with your clients and communicate well.


10. CV reveals job hopping

A certain amount of job changing, especially early on, can indicate a candidate who wants to better themselves and move up the career ladder.

However, if changing jobs is a recurring pattern on their CV be prepared to probe to discover if this is an applicant who has itchy feet, struggles to fit into salon culture or is technically not up to the job.


11. A lack of knowledge about your salon

Another form of arrogance or perhaps it highlights a lack of motivation. Has the candidate bothered to learn anything about your salon?

How many times have you interviewed a candidate who clearly hasn’t visited your website or social media and is clueless about your salon?

Neither do they have any questions about what the job is like on a daily basis or what your expectations are.

In fact the one and only question they have is about their salary. Been there? I have.

I like to ask early on in the interview, “What do you know about our salon,” and see what it tells me about the candidate.


12. Do they fit your salon culture?

Put bluntly, would you love to work with them on a daily basis?

Are they a positive addition to your salon team? Will they muck in and get on with the job and your team? Will your clients love them? And rebook them?

Or do you have a gut feeling that they are trouble? Someone who will stir up your team, continually moans, is neither trustworthy nor reliable and will take more than their fair share of managing?


There may be trouble ahead….

Of course, you can never be sure until you work with someone. Yet if you’re observant when interviewing you can usually spot key early warning signs about the candidate’s attitude, work ethic and cultural fit. The trouble is with experienced candidates being so few and far between is that it is often too tempting to offer that salon job and regret at your leisure.