How to weed out salon troublemakers when recruiting

You don’t need me to tell you that we’re suffering from a crippling shortage of skilled candidates in the hair & beauty industry.

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

But… be careful. You don’t want to find a couple of weeks later you’re already regretting your hasty decision as your new salon employee is constantly late, bickers with your team and rubs your best clients up the wrong way.


11 red flags when recruiting new salon staff

You’ve put a lot of effort into your salon recruitment marketing so you want to hire the right person who will fit in and thrive in your business. Let’s look at the clues potential troublemakers let slip during their interview and how to spot them.


#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 go-get

If candidates are difficult to nail down for the interview your inner alarm bells should ring. Loudly. If work, transport or baby-sitters are a problem now, they are likely to be once they are working for you.

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 candidates 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 salon

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 stare at the ground, arms hanging limply by their sides and mumble? Think about what impression this greeting have on a new 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 a loud-mouth in their midst? 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. And what about your salon clients? Will they enjoy an appointment with someone who talks non-stop about themselves?

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. Salon candidates who can’t be bothered

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

If someone can’t be bothered to make an effort with their own appearance at an interview, what are they going to turn up to work looking like? And what marketing message will this send to your clients?


#7. Listen and learn

I like to 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.

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.


#8. Lack of personality and communication skills

Being a successful beauty therapist or a hair stylist means building strong relationships with clients and often 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.


#9. CV reveals salon hopping

A certain amount of job changing, especially early on, can indicate someone 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.


#10. No interest in your salon business

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.

How many times have you interviewed someone 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 nor what your expectations are.

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


#11. Do they fit your salon culture?

Be honest, 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 niggling gut feeling that they are trouble? Someone who will stir up your team, will continually moan and is not reliable. The sort of stylist or therapist who will need more than their fair share of managing by you.

There may be trouble ahead…

Of course, you can never be sure until you work with someone. Yet, if you’re observant when recruiting you can usually spot key early warning signs about someone’s attitude, work ethic and cultural fit.

The trouble is with experienced candidates being so few and far between is that it can be tempting to offer that salon job. Then regret at your leisure.

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