7 Concrete Salon Interview Techniques To Ensure You Hire The Best-Of-The-Best

4 min

7 Concrete Salon Interview Techniques To Ensure You Hire The Best-Of-The-Best

Your staff team is one of (if not the) most critical element to your salon’s success. The group of individuals you hire needs to work as a cohesive, motivated, enthusiastic team and one of the best ways, besides training, to guarantee your salon’s success is to hire the right people. ‘Where have all the good therapists gone?” The question, if asked loud and clear by salon owner and director Sam Pearce at The Potting Shed Spa, is also one asked by many others in silence. So today, we are going to look at the very best salon interview techniques to implement in order to hire the best-of-the-best!

Related | Salon Staff: Why You Need To Hire a Duck

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The Salon Interview: 7 Must-Dos

1. First, A Quick Phone Interview

If you get swamped with CVs or applications (which is a good thing of course), then a quick phone interview helps remove time-wasters while also positioning your business as a place where you don’t just hire anybody. Don’t forget, you are looking for the very best candidates possible.

*This is also a great opportunity to invite your current team into the process. Perhaps some of your senior staff could even do first round phone calls to get them involved in the salon interviewing process.

2) Always Do 2 Rounds Of Interviews (minimum)

Partner up with two different people during round 1 & 2 of the salon interview. Get the second person to ask the exact same set of questions and compare answers from the first and second round. If your candidates are bluffing, they will often forget what they said, so it is great for spotting BS.

* Some people may get irate when asked the same set of questions over-and-over, but that in itself is a sign that they may be the right fit!

3. Ask About References

Early on in the interview, ask about their what references and what relationship they have with them. Doing this will help them understand you are thorough and are here to talk business. My advice, start with their previous experience. Find out which the name of the employer there who will vouch for them (this will be instrumental later on in the salon interview process).

4. Use This One Crucial Series Of Questions

For every job they have on their CV, ask them this thread of questions:

  • Who did you report to daily?
  • What was their name?
  • What will they tell me your strengths and weaknesses are if we get to the references stage?

Instead of conducting a salon interview where you ask them to list their strengths and weaknesses, make it clear that you will ask someone else. This will encourage honesty. No getting away with having perfectionism as a weakness!

“What is your greatest strength?”


5. Move The Venue

How about you conduct your first salon interview in the salon (a more formal setting) and then move the second interview to another location altogether (like a coffee shop or a cafe)? The key here is to see if they can relax a bit. If they can, you will be able to get to know them much better. It will also make it easier to really understand if you could work with them.

Will they put the same level of effort in the second time around? How hungry are they really?


6. Give Candidates A Practical Task To Do On The Day

We’ve had multiples salon owners mentioning that many of today’s candidates lack practical skills. Sam Pearce, from The Potting Shed Spa was even on our Salon Owner’s Podcast, Phorest FM, to discuss the current recruitment crisis within the industry (see below). Test that out on the day! If you are hiring for nails, get them to do nails there and then. They do hair? Well, you get the idea. Never hire on word-of-mouth. If this candidate really wants the job, then they should jump at the opportunity to show you what they can do.

7. Get Their References To Ring You!

Instead of asking for a reference’s details, have the candidate organise a reference to contact you. Why? Ask yourself this: would you be willing to ring an employer and give a reference for someone who did a terrible job? Probably not. However, you might just ‘go through the motions’ if someone rang you. If they can’t get two references to ring you on their behalf, then there’s a good chance something is up. 

And then you can ask all about them. We recommend you let the referee know that this is strictly confidential and then ask these four questions:

  • Could you describe your relationship with the candidate?
  • What are the candidate’s strengths (see if they match up)?
  • What are the candidate’s weaknesses?
  • Would the reference hire this candidate again? 

That is four minimum by the way… You may have worries, concerns, etc. and this is the time to raise them. Remember you can have fun interviewing people, particularly in the second round. Also, adding one person that is not for your salon can be detrimental to culture, all of the hard work you have built up, and of course, your client base.

So while this can seem extreme, it’s a great way to get the right person. And don’t forget, there is nothing wrong with the selling them the salon too! You have to pitch the opportunity to get the best talent.

Related | Hiring Great Salon Staff: Why You Shouldn’t Call A Reference

And there you have it! The 7 concrete salon interview techniques that will ensure you get the very best candidate for your team. But, that’s not all! We have even created a step-by-step document for you to print out and leave in your office for the next time you have to go through the salon interview process.

Download Phorest Salon Software’s interview checklist reminder by filling out the form below:


Got feedback? Leave us a comment or tweet us @ThePhorestWord! Who knows, we might feature you on Phorest FM! 😉

For more great tips, check out our full resource on how to set up, run and grow a successful salon business.

Thanks for reading,


Originally published in March 2016, this article has been updated to maintain its relevancy in 2017.

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