How To Shine In A Salon Interview
You’ve taken all the right steps by enrolling in an Aveda Institute, practicing behind the chair, making valuable connections, and building a knowledge base. Now what?
You’re ready for the big leagues! The hiring process for top salons can be daunting, and we know the question every Aveda student ponders: how do you shine in an interview?
We asked China Wong, owner of Salon Spa W; David Wagner, founder of JUUT Aveda Salon Spas and the Daymaker movement; and JUUT’s Director of Hiring, Adrienne Washburn. With their tips and tricks, you’ll be able to tackle your dream interviews with confidence.
1. Do your research! Get to know your dream salon.
China: It shows great preparation when students come in having reviewed our website so that they know about our culture, our efforts in the community and our engagements in non-profits. I also think it’s helpful if they have talked with other educators and students that are currently working with the salon to ask about their experiences.
Adrienne: I’d love it if they know what we specialize in and have read or are familiar with our mission at JUUT. Having been into a location is also a plus!
2. Know what you bring to the table. Your values are important!
C: We try to keep our interviews pretty conversational. We ask questions about their interests and activities—not only in beauty school but in high school or college as well. We are looking for core attributes that make people a great fit for our culture.
A: Part of our training program focus is on culture, so that does a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of a culture fit. But initial values are important—what do they value about this career, JUUT and their future?
3. Dress for success. Get to know the salon’s vibe beforehand…you’ll fit right on in.
C: If they follow us on social feeds and have seen our staff members’ pictures, that’s a great place to start. You can figure out a salon’s culture and vibe—whether it is casual, formal, all black, and so on. It’s valuable when it appears that you would feel comfortable working at our salon.
A: At JUUT we believe in authenticity and real beauty. We want you to show off the most elevated version of your personal style.
4. Shake those interview nerves!
C: There is a quote I love, “Every master was once a beginner.” I think that always gives us perspective. Every person has interviewed for jobs—we’ve all been in the interviewee’s shoes.
I do take that into account and recognize when they’re nervous. Perhaps they have a little tremble in their voice; not everyone is comfortable with interviews. I’m always rooting for the interviewee, and I want them to do a good job. And if it is comfortable, that might be a tell that it’s a good fit.
A: Planning! Plan your outfit, where you will park and make sure you give yourself some extra time. After that, breathe deeply and know that if it’s meant to be, it will be! When I interview at JUUT, it’s just a conversation about goals, dreams, and how we can support each other to manifest those. I think it’s an exciting conversation, and I hope they do too!
5. Authenticity and professionalism go a long way.
C: There are things that business owners know are going to be a culture fit or not. That differs from salon to salon. If they are honest and speak their truth, the salon will know if they are authentically a fit for the salon or not.
A: I do believe in all the basic interview etiquette—such as showing up prepared and on time. It speaks volumes about what kind of team member they will be.
6. Stay curious. An interview is just a career-focused conversation!
C: It would be best if you always asked some questions—it shows engagement and deep thinking. They should be invested in finding a great fit. The hiring process is a two-way street…what the interviewee cares about is just as important as what the salon cares about.
A: I think it’s essential that they come with whatever questions are really important to them. Whether it’s about income potential, inspiration, diversity…we are an open book. What’s most important to them helps me provide answers to assess if JUUT will be a match for them. As far as questions never to ask, I think nothing personal—otherwise, I’m game for whatever they’ve got!
A: It’s our goal that by the time I sit down with someone, they have most of the information about JUUT, that way we can use the time to talk about them—their goals in life, what inspires them. I’m blown away by genuine passion and interesting conversations. It’s most inspiring when they have a vision for their career, and we collaborate on how we can support each other to get there.
7. Remember the moments that have shaped your experience as a stylist—they tell an important story.
C: We always ask, “Tell us about a time that you saw a coworker or fellow classmate doing something that you disagreed with. How did you handle it?” It reveals a lot about what kind of team members they are going to be. That dynamic is really important. When you work as a team, how someone expresses themself impacts the salon’s energy—I want to know that I can count on them.
A: The biggest question we ask is, “What does being a daymaker mean to you?” We want to know how they connect to this question—it doesn’t matter whether it’s behind the chair or in their daily life. It’s the essence of our culture and who we strive to be. Their interpretation of daymaking can be very telling, and I love to hear examples of how this shows up in their own lives.
8. Communication is key to finding your salon home.
C: If you are going to err on one side, you should err on the side of being more professional in the first interview. That being said, I also really value authenticity to find the right fit. The salon owner will know if those things are going to fit within their culture. For example, if you know you really want to work a 20-hour workweek, you shouldn’t walk in the door expressing excitement about a 40-hour schedule. Match your needs to the business’ needs so that you find a great home.
A: If you have dogs or pets, I absolutely want to know about them! Other than that, it’s important that we tie most things to their career. Interviews can be so quick. When we hire people, we want to look at the whole person; so some points are important for context. This can also tell us how they communicate with guests—where do they draw the line on personal conversations with a guest in their chair?
9. Take each moment as an opportunity to learn.
C: Sometimes, students are intimidated to apply to salons because they think they don’t have great technical skills or have watched educators that have worked at a salon. But the majority of salon owners hire based on work ethic, passion for the industry and culture fit—not necessarily skill. Most salons have excellent training programs that add to the skill level as needed. Be brave! Don’t talk yourself out of a good opportunity.
Even if you don’t get the job, you gain experience and improve at the interview process. I have team members that we didn’t hire during their first interview, but months or even years later, we ran into each other again—and that time, it was the right fit.
A: In my experience, even for candidates with many years behind the chair, being open to learning and expanding their skill sets is essential. I encourage new artists to think back to why they even began doing hair and remember what their big dreams are. If you can keep those in mind, you will always be inspired.
10. Remember that technical skills come with experience.
C: Knowing what’s trendy right now is important. They may know how to perform the skill, but are they also practiced at speaking about it to guests?
One of the benefits of coming from an Aveda Institute and interviewing at an Aveda salon is you likely speak the same language. The advantage of being in an Aveda network is that you talk about hair the same way—and that demonstrates knowledge while building communication and confidence. Your values are also aligned, such as the importance of vegan and eco-friendly products, serving their community in their salon, and more broadly.
Sometimes students get nervous about technical interviews, but I would tell them to do their best work. We don’t expect perfection. We simply want to see where their skills are at that point in time. Confidence is key; salon owners are looking for someone who demonstrates passion and excitement.
A: Our invitation lists expectations clearly; we really want to take all of the guesswork out. Our program is meant to teach them these technical skills, but we love to see effort: cleanliness of their supplies, station and appearance. It’s also about guest interactions. The technical interview is just as much for them as it is for us. They can ask themselves, “Do I like JUUT? Does this feel like home for me?”
11. Ask for feedback! Your interviewer may have some great advice.
C: All of the “extras” get me especially excited. In the modern world, people reach out in many different ways—whether through formal applications, phone calls, emails, or even texts. It’s about what is said in that first contact and if they’ve really made an effort to learn things about our team. Of course, you can never go wrong with a hand-written note—that’s always really special.
It’s not just about impressing the interviewer…they may spend time with the owner, general manager, or even team members. Even when they initially walk through the door and interact with guest services, it speaks volumes about how they will interact with guests. Smiling and emitting great energy goes a long way.
Follow-throughs are important as well; don’t be scared or nervous. Be bold! Ask for feedback, what you can improve upon for next time. By keeping communications open, you allow opportunities to flow.
12. Follow-through to stand out.
C: I would say that follow-ups are appreciated. A hand-written note is fabulous in today’s culture.
A: I don’t expect them, but I do cherish them when they come. This shows me that they have a commitment to building relationships, which is such a massive part of this career.