You've double checked your resume, created your presentation folder, researched your dream salon and finally landed an interview. Awesome! This is the final step before your start your career. I used to be so nervous going into interviews and a few years ago I figured out the secret to letting the nerves go. Spend the days leading up to your interview doing all of your research and preparing and by the time your interview comes around you'll be calm and collected.
- Choose your outfit wisely-When doing salon research I recommended visiting your dream employers in person. Hopefully you took the time to do your in person research and you should dress to the standards of your potential employer for the interview. If the team wears all black, you should wear all black to the interview. If the team wears jeans and a t-shirt, I wouldn't go that casual, but I wouldn't wear all black either. Maybe a nice colored dress for a woman or dress slacks with a colored dress shirt and no tie for a man. If you are applying for a position and the team wears uniforms which is common in a spa and some salons too, be conservative with your attire and keep accessories to a minimum. The goal here is to look like you already fit in.
- Do your research-Take the time to research your potential employers website, social media and Yelp page. These outlets will have valuable information about the salon or spas structure, clientele, retail lines, reputation, etc and your employer will be impressed if you've spent the time to research their business. It makes you appear more serious, mature and prepared.
- Interview yourself ahead of time-Spend the days leading up to your interview running through interview questions and practicing what your response would be. Focus on the tough questions such as "What are three things you feel like you should improve upon" or "How do you handle disagreements with your coworkers or the management team". Don't be afraid to say your responses out loud too. By doing this exercise the responses to tough questions will already be sitting right on the tip of your tongue waiting to come out in the interview. This will help melt the nerves away and make you feel more prepared.
- Come prepared-By this point you should have already created your presentation folder. Grab your folder and make sure that you've customized your cover letter to be addressed to the hiring manager. It is a good idea to add in some details about the salon you are interviewing at to personalize your cover letter even more. Even if you've already mailed a copy of your application package, bring a brand new folder filled with the documents anyway. You never know if the person you are interviewing with is different than the person who initially saw your information so you want to have a copy just in case.
- Portfolio presentation- In my previous post Put your best foot forward: Beyond the resume I discuss the portfolio options. If you decided to use any option other than a physical book, you should bring an iPad or laptop to your interview if possible to show off your portfolio. From your device you could login to your Instagram, Facebook, website or a folder of saved photos. If bringing a device isn't an option, that is okay. Instead come prepared with a nice portfolio of 7-20 printed images of your work.
- Prepare a few questions-It has always bothered me when I ask an applicant if they have questions and they can't think of a single one. It has always made me feel like they are disconnected or aren't taking the job seriously.
- Pack a thank-you note-This is one of my best tips and can make or break your interview. Stash a blank note in your car and when you finish your interview jot down a nice, personalized note to the person who interviewed you. Drop the card at the local post office so that the interviewer receives your card within the first 48 hours. Less than 25% of applicants do this little extra step and it makes all the difference.
- Practice makes perfect-If the spa or salon you are interviewing with requires a live model demonstration, be sure to line up a model and practice what you plan to execute ahead of time. If you'll be demonstrating something temporary like a blow-dry or massage, practice on your model at least twice so that you are both as comfortable as possible. If you need to showcase something permanent like a haircut or eyebrow wax, use a doll head or ask another friend to be your model ahead of time just so that you can work all of the nerves out before you are in front of your applicant. It is important that when you are practicing to pretend you are in the interview. Don't be casual just because it is you and a friend practicing in the living room. Explain to your friend the importance of the exercise and you should both stay very professional.
- Above all, relax-I realized that an interview goes both ways meaning that it is a chance for me to interview my potential employer just as much as it is a chance for them to meet me. You really only want to work at a place that feels comfortable and meets all of your criteria so take a breath and tell yourself "I'm just going to be me and hope that this works out". Be polite and professional but it is also important to be honest and true to yourself. If you have to put on an act and become somebody you aren't, you are allowing the employer to fall in love with the character you create and long term employment might not work out when they discover the true you.
The interviewer is looking for a new member for their employee family. The less nervous and more prepared you can be, the better the experience will be for both of you. I always advise new graduates who are about to start the interview process to select the salon that feels like home. Don't just choose the coolest salon with the edgiest reputation or the spa that is flooded with walk-ins. Both of those things are great, but if you didn't get along with the interviewer or the team seemed unhappy or cold, go with your gut and keep looking. Above all else, it is important to find the place that will make you happy for 40+ hours a week for the next several years. xoxo