Know the Right Questions to Ask
July 21, 2016
One of the more stressful parts of running a salon is managing employees. Some salon owners and managers are constantly worried about the potential for an employee walkout or about the continual revolving door of new and departing team members. To reduce this stress, it’s important to hire the right people to join the team and not hire someone just to fill the vacant position.
After receiving all the job applications, select three to five candidates to come in for an interview. It can be hard to compare candidates and to narrow down the choices based on a few pages of information. Below are a few things to look for when shortlisting applications:
- Professionalism – Has the applicant paid attention to details by ensuring there are no typos or grammatical errors?
- Competency – Does the candidate have the necessary education, certifications, or experience?
- Loyalty – Has the stylist jumped from salon to salon in a short time frame?
- Growth – Has the applicant taken on new roles or responsibilities? Has he/she shown interest in continuing education by attending courses or conferences?
- Values – Does the stylist have a similar set of values as your salon? For example if your business prides itself on community involvement, look for volunteer experience on the résumé.
If a cover letter is also included, take a look to see if it’s tailored to your business and job posting or if it seems to be a generic letter that is being sent to every salon in the area.
Prepare a list of questions to provide some structure to the interview and to ensure you have similar points to easily compare candidates later. The list should simply act as a guide. Interviews should be conversational in nature, so feel free to jump ahead as topics come up (make sure to go back though) or to skip some questions completely if the applicant has already discussed it thoroughly.
“Tell me a bit about yourself.”
To start off, ask an open-ended question to get the conversation flowing, to allow everyone to get comfortable, and to just learn about the person.
“On your résumé, you mentioned…”
With only brief descriptions on applications, take some time to get any clarification or to learn more about the stylist’s education or experience. Don’t hesitate to ask some performance-based questions about retail sales or client retention.
“Has there been a time when…”
A valuable interview technique is to ask behavioral questions. The intention is to understand how they deal with certain scenarios such as conflict with coworkers/managers, complaints from clients, or pressure to reach sales targets. The ideal answer will tell you about the situation, the action the applicant took, and the end result. You may also want to hear if they’ve learned from that experience and how they would change their action if a similar situation arose again.
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
While it may put some candidates on the spot, follow up by asking how they intend to reach that position. Their answer will give you insight into how they fit into your salon’s plans. Are they looking to improve their skills and move up the ladder eventually, or are they hoping to do the minimum and stay where they are?
“Why do you want to work for us?”
Find out what they know about your salon, whether from prior experience or from researching your business. It will help determine if their goals and values are aligned with your salon.
“What would you do if you found a penguin in the freezer?”
Ask a completely random question like the one above from Trader Joe’s. There is no right or wrong answer but it shows how the applicant will react to and approach unexpected problems. Some people may refuse to answer while others will creatively seek a solution.
“Do you have any questions for us?”
While it isn’t an official question, this can give you a lot of insight into their interest in the position and in the salon. For example if their first question is about wages, it will seem that they are primarily interested in the financial aspect and it doesn’t matter to them who they work for.
Note: While you may want to have a casual and conversational interview in some instances, be careful about the questions you or any interviewer asks. Even if there is no intention to discriminate, questions about race, religion, age, etc. can land you in legal trouble.
After conducting all the interviews, go over your notes to determine and weigh the pros and cons of each candidate. For example, it is preferable to hire a stylist who is a better fit with the rest of the team than someone who has an extra year of work experience. If you are still having trouble selecting between two stylists, bring them in for a second interview and have another manager or employee with you to get their perspective as well.
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