Your New Beauty Career:
The Top Interview Questions &
How to Breeze
Right Through Them

The day has come to start your beauty career. Be ready for those tough interview questions, dazzle the salon manager and land your first career job!

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Christy C

Interview Questions PREP

When working out your answers for these tough interview questions I want you to always focus on the POSITIVE and HOW YOU CAN BENEFIT THE SALON.  Stay away from any negative remark even when asked for a negative response. Begin your beauty career on the up note.

Turn any negative into a positive.

If you run into a weakness turn it around by showing you are "solution oriented."

You don't see "problems", you know only "improvement" or "solutions."

Is your mind in the game?. Alright, let's get busy getting you a new beauty career.

Top Sample Job Interview Questions for a Salon Beauty Career

1.  Tell Me About Yourself.

              Sounds easy, right? This is going to blow you away.  They could care less about anything personal.  They are NOT asking you about where you live or if you are married or your GPA.  They want to know how you can benefit their salon. 

They want to know what you bring to the party. So here is what you are going to do.  In your notebook write out each of these questions on a separate sheet for each.  For this one you need to tell them in the shortest way possible what your USP is (your Unique Selling Point).

 Paige could say something like,

"I am a very quick study and use my free time to further my skills and research hair techniques.  I am great with time management, have a lot of customer service experience and a strong work ethic.  I am passionate about all things "hair" but my true love is in hairstyling and updo's." 

In less than a minute Paige is able to get right to her strengths without wasting time.  You want to make it very easy on the manager/owner to get the information she is looking for. Now is not the time to hold back.  It is ok to sell yourself. It's more than OK, it's necessary.  Selling is a big part of your job responsibility in your beauty career!  Selling yourself shows her your ability or potential for upselling.

2.  Do you consider yourself a team player?

          Being a team player in a salon is a strength.  Everyone is there to make money, for themselves and for the salon.  It takes a village.  If you are highly self absorbed by nature start working on that issue.  You will need help in a salon and you will be called upon to help others. So if this question is asked and you are NOT a team player, meaning you prefer to work alone, fake it. 

I'm not saying lie to the interviewer but you need them to know you ARE a team player.  Saying you prefer to work alone in a salon environment will disqualify you.  So YES, you are a team player, and you will consciously work on it in the salon. Think of a time when you worked as a team on any project.  Write it in your notebook with an example of how you helped the team, just in case you are asked for one. Your beauty career will mostly be a team sport.

3.  Why do you want to work for us? or Why do you want this job?

          They are looking for your motivation here.  Are you driven by your passion?  OR...Are you looking for a place to just get a paycheck? If you love your work you would be an asset to the salon.  If you are just trying to find a job anywhere there is no indication to a manager that you are a good fit on her team.  Show them that your values, desires, passion and the direction you intend to take your  beauty career are in line with the salon culture.  For example, Paige is passionate about hairstyling and updo's.  Her resume will state this. Going to work in a male grooming salon would not be a good fit for her and the salon manager would recognize that Paige probably wouldn't feel fulfillment only working on men. If she were to hire Paige she knows that Paige most likely won't stay long.

Answer this question by proving you are a good fit in her salon.  State what you are passionate about and where you would like to grow your skills. Acknowledge their salon culture in a positive way by giving her a compliment on an element of the salon. Then say how they are everything you want in a salon.

Example:  La Bella Foo Foo Salon has an outstanding reputation for customer service and beautiful color services.  I love doing color more than anything and intend on becoming a master colorist within 2 years.  I can't think of anywhere I would rather begin my beauty career and learn from the best.

You are starting your Beauty Career.

4.  Why should we hire you?

          Boy, that's a toughie, isn't it?  It would be really easy to stammer through a stupid answer in an interview.  What they are really asking you is "Why is it in our best interest to have you working for us?"  So tell them. An interview is no place to be shy.  Tell them How you will be an asset to the salon.

Example:  Because I have a strong work ethic, I'm great at time management, I understand the importance of superior customer service and I am willing to do everything I can to help the salon and myself grow. 

And if you are really ballsey say "Because I will exceed your expectations!"

(But make sure you can deliver.)

5.  What did you like best about your last job?

          She wants to know where your attention goes on the job.  If you blurt out, "I loved the people I worked with," it would lead her to the idea that you are easy to get along with and a team player. 

There is not necessarily a wrong answer here, but there could be a more helpful answer to lead the interviewer in the direction you want them to go. Zero in on the quality you would like to support.  In the sample above, being a team player was reinforced. And that's a good one for a salon.  If you want to show customer service is important to you maybe say something like, "I enjoyed making people smile when I gave them their morning coffee drink. I feel like I made their day!"

Choose something that translates into a beauty career.  Making people smile by providing good customer service is great.

You are starting your Beauty Career.

6.  What did you like least about your last job?

          Oh, this is a tricky one.  It's a setup. It is very easy to fall into this snare.  People just wait for an opening to vent.  But you now know ahead of time NOT TO DO THIS.

Instead of coming back with, "OH, I really hated my boss. He was such a pig!" you want to go to a task that is harmless to what you are trying to achieve.  If you worked at Starbucks you had to clean, you had very busy times, it could be stressful, people complained, you may have had a bad co-worker, etc.  But if you point any of this out in your interview it will look like a negative for YOU.

So how can you overcome this?  First state the positive you took away from the job followed by something like lack of opportunity, nowhere to advance my career, my heart wasn't it because I couldn't wait to start my beauty career, or I saw myself as a stylist rather than a barista.

They can't fault you for lack of growth opportunities.

7.  What was the best job you ever had? Why?

          She is wanting to know if what you really enjoy doing is something you will enjoy doing in the salon. If you loved being a number cruncher and sitting at a desk all day you probably won't like being a creative, stand on your feet all day hairdresser.  In her eyes, maybe you are not the best suited person for her open chair.

However, if you worked at PetSmart and enjoyed running around the store and helping customers with their beloved pets the interviewer could see how those activities could easily translate into beauty career activities.

Choose a job you've had where the activities are similar to those in a salon, like, customer service, sales, being active rather than sitting, and multi-tasking.

You are starting your Beauty Career.

8.  What was the worst job you ever had? Why?

          This is similar to the other question about what you liked least. To use the example from the last question, go in the opposite direction of salon activities.  Since you will be up and active all day you could choose a job you had where you had to sit all day.  Or you could choose one that was boring and didn't engage your interest.

Example:  I once worked as a receptionist in a dental office. It was difficult for me to stay put all day because I am much happier in a fast paced environment.

Notice that I don't use strong, negative, emotional words like HATE.  No matter what, keep things on a positive note.

9.  What are your greatest strengths?

          Now is your chance to Shine!  This is what they really want. They are saying, "PLEASE tell me what you are good at so I can hire you."  So tell them!.

Tell them the strengths that will add value to their salon.

 If you are a good cook, good for you, but it does nothing for the salon.  Write down all of your strong qualities first, then tailor your answer to include your top 3-5.


Example:  I am a hard worker, highly efficient and am able to maintain a positive attitude.  I'm also very passionate about hair and am excited to start my beauty career.         

You are starting your Beauty Career.

10.  What is your greatest weakness?

          Turn a negative into a positive.  Don't say anything that will throw up a red flag to the interviewer like, "I have a hard time getting places on time."  If a candidate said that to me we would be done with the interview.  A salon manager not only needs you at work on time but so do your clients.

Don't choose anything that could adversely affect salon life. Things like being too trusting, or being too guarded with your feelings, or taking on too much responsibility are good ones to use that won't work against you.

Whatever you choose make sure to add, "...but I'm working on it."  This shows you are aware of your challenges and willing to be pro-active to improve yourself. Good for you.

You are starting your Beauty Career.

11. Describe a difficult work situation and how you handled it.

          You will always be faced with challenges in the work place, especially in your beauty career.  A manager wants to feel comfortable that you can handle a delicate situation in a professional, tactful and logical manner.

You should show off here.  Think of something that happened in a previous job where you made lemonade out of lemons.  Make yourself look like the hero!

Example:  A toddler got sick in the aisle of PetSmart.  The child was throwing up and crying and the mother was flustered.  The mother was concerned for her child but embarrassed by the situation.  I ran and got a lot of paper towels to immediately cover up the mess.  I also brought a clean, damp towel for the mom to clean the baby.  I stayed with them and helped mom get her child and her bag to the car easily.  I then cleaned up the mess as quickly as possible.  She later called the store and told my manager that she appreciated how I had helped her to her car with her sick baby and that she posted it on Facebook so others would know we had great customer service at our store.

Now she knows you will be good with a sticky situation.

12.  What are your goals for the future?

          A manager would like to see that you have thought about your future and what direction your beauty career is headed.

The only wrong answer here would be "I don't know." However, she is looking for your professional goals rather than your personal goals.

If you want to someday own a salon talk about the path you intend to take. Let her know that you desire to be in management to gain the experience.

No one expects you to have your life plan laid out already. But she would like a general idea of your direction.  If you really just don't know pick the hair activity you like the most and make a tentative goal of it.  For example you may like doing color.  You could say, "I love doing highlights and learning coloring techniques.  I plan on becoming a master colorist within the next 2 years and then see where that takes me."

You are starting your Beauty Career.

13.  What are you passionate about?

          Just keep it about salon life and on a professional level.  Stay away from answers like, "I can't get enough of Kim Kardashian," or "Oh I love Facebook."

Instead go with, "I love everything about color! I'm always on YouTube looking for fresh new looks and trying them on my friends."

She is thinking, "That's great. I need a new stylist that wants to become a master colorist.  Money, money, money."

14.  Who was the best boss you ever had? Why?

          The answer you give will reflect the lens in which you see your management. She is wondering what you consider a good boss and if your views on management are something that will make her job easier or harder.

Think carefully. Don't choose the one that let the employees get away with anything!

Choose a boss that had positive qualities and provided strong leadership.

A good answer would sound something like this:  "My boss at PetSmart was the best boss I ever had.  He gave us ways to develop our product knowledge and encouraged us to take on more responsibility.  He was very fair and gave recognition to employees who did something outstanding. He respected the employees and we trusted him to help us if we needed it."

A bad answer would be:  "My boss at PetSmart. He didn't get mad if we came in late."

Do you see the difference in perspective?

You are starting your Beauty Career.

15.  Who was the worst boss you ever had?  Why?

          OOOh, trick question again.  Remember we don't want to bash former employers.  The interviewer knows if you talk bad about someone to her, then you may talk bad about her one day.

So how do we handle this one?

You could say, "I've never had a really bad boss, but I have learned some things NOT to do."  This way you are not directly pointing the finger while still acknowledging you are aware not everyone is a good manager.

Or you could say, "I once had someone that was thrown into management with no experience.  He wasn't ready and needed more people skills."  Still not pointing a finger!

It would be ok to say criminal, unethical, anger issues, etc. Just don't name names and keep it very short without going into a story. "I once had a manager that was stealing from the company." End of story. Short, to the point and answers the question truthfully.

Think about what you are comfortable with and pick the approach you feel fits you best.  I want you to be at ease in the interview.

You are starting your Beauty Career.

16.  What hours are you available?

          Know the hours of the salon before you go for the interview. The best answer is always...ANYTIME.

However, life sometimes gets in the way.  My advice is to work out your issues to the best of your ability before interviewing.  This can be a deal breaker.

You should know by now that you will most likely be working some nights and weekends. This is a beauty career, not a bank job.

If you have a lot of restraints on your availability it will hurt your chances of getting the job a great deal.  Be as flexible as possible.

17.  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

          Hiring a new employee is an investment on the part of the salon.  It takes time and money to train a new hire.  Stylist retention is important to owners.  Losing stylists means losing clients.  In a way, this question is asking "Are you worth the investment?"

That being said, ambition is a virtue.

And again, the only wrong answer is "I don't know."

Tell her how you see your professional life growth, not personal.  She doesn't want to hear how you are going to be married with a new house and 2 kids, one boy, one girl.

What do you want to do most? Have you set any goals yet? Think this through and jot down some ideas in your notebook to work out a good answer.

One more tip, keep it realistic.  If you say something wild like, "I see myself owning 5 high end salons throughout Chicago and franchising them throughout the United States" when you just got out of beauty school she may think you are delusional. 

But let's say that really is your goal.  Bring it down a notch and show her that you have some real plans laid out. That would sound like, "I have a fabulous idea for a salon I am opening in the future. However, in the next 5 years I will be honing my skills, taking some business classes and working my way into salon management."

Bottom line, keep your goals in line with the salon and show her you are all about developing your beauty career.

18. How many hours a week do you expect?

          She needs to know your expectations. She wants someone with unlimited availability, in a perfect world. Not every salon considers 40 hours to be full time.  There are some franchises that consider 30 hours full time.  I know of one that doesn't want a stylist on the floor over 7 hours in a shift to keep them from burnout.

If you absolutely need full time let her know this.  Or maybe you can make do with 20 hours a week until you can work your way into full time.

But if you only want 20 hours a week it is important you are up front with her.  She has to consider hours to make out her schedule.  Be truthful with what you need. 

You are starting your Beauty Career.

19.  Do you have any problems working weekends?


You are now a professional stylist and starting your beauty career. You know good and well you now work on weekends. Don't even try it.

20.  Do you have any thoughts on building clientele?

          If you are a brand new stylist starting your beauty career the manager does not expect you to come with a clientele.  However, if you are in a private salon you will be responsible for building your clientele.  I hope you knew this already.

Franchise salons are mostly about walk-ins.  That doesn't mean you won't have clientele.  You will.  A client can "request" any stylist they like.  As you continue to work there you continue to gather clients that request you. That is your clientele.

Private salons do not have near as many walk-ins as franchise salons do.  So if you believe that you can start at a private salon and only rely on a walk-in base to make your money you are in for a shock.

Therefore, you need to be thinking about how you are going to approach clientele building. Lucky for you I have a page to help you on building your clientele.

But for now, let's get back to the question. Hmmm, thoughts on building a clientele.

Your ability to build clientele means money in the cash register to the salon. She wants to know your point of view on clientele building.  Like, do you understand the significance to the salon, do you understand the impact on your paycheck, do you think clients are going to fall from the sky and land in your chair? 

A good example of an answer:  I realize that just starting out I don't have a clientele yet.  However, I am aware that you build a solid clientele from within the salon and outside the salon through marketing.  It costs less to keep a client than to get a new one so outstanding customer service is my first order of business.  I will do everything I can to retain the clients I get. I already have some ideas. And outside the salon I know that marketing myself is very important.  I have a strong social network in place and ready to launch my salon campaign. I'm also working on some other ideas to get my name out there.

Don't freak, I got your back.  You can find some ideas on Building Clientele for Your New Beauty Career

But hey, pretty solid answer, huh?

You are starting your Beauty Career.

21.  How do you feel about selling Professional Product?

           I really hope by now you grasp the concept that selling retail is in your job description.


Now that you understand this, let's have a quick chat.

  1. Retail brings in a 30-45% profit margin, while salon services only 5% profit.
  2. Without selling a client product you are not fully servicing them.
  3. Selling Retail builds trust with your clients.
  4. Selling Retail improves client retention by 30%!
  5. Product use in clients makes you look like a miracle worker!

Those are the highlights. It is absolutely imperative you sell product and the manager needs to know you get it.

 So your answer should assure her you understand the impact of product sales on the salon cash register and know how to do it. 

Good Answer:  I know that professional product sales are vital to the life of the salon.  Without product our clients (use the word "our" to plant the seed you are a part of her team) can't recreate the awesome looks we give them in the salon.  Product sales also increase client retention.  I prefer the "education" method rather than hard selling.  I educate throughout the service, showing them how the products benefit their specific needs.

 Remember to visit selling retail in a salon to learn some cool techniques that make you a pro from the get go.

 I have never done an interview where I got that kind of answer.  But if I did I would probably hire them on the spot.  Instead, I usually hear, "Oh, I'm not very good at selling."  No one has ever answered it with enthusiasm and knowledge.  Do it and you will see the interviewer straighten up in her seat and take notice!         

22.  Sometimes we get involved with a client and have to stay later than scheduled. Would that be a problem for you?

          There are limits to the questions that can be legally asked in a job interview. An interviewer can't ask you how many kids you have, if you have a car or any other personal questions. But that doesn't mean you should try to hide pertinent information because it will only backfire on you down the road.

You are building a relationship with a manager that you hope to work for. Don't start your beauty career off on the wrong foot.  Tell her what she needs to know for the good of the salon.

The best is answer is "No mam, that would not be a problem for me. I understand that it is easy to get tied up servicing a client and there will be times I need to stay to help the salon."

Notice how I explained I had an "understanding" of the way it goes sometimes and I'm expecting it to happen.    Just saying, "No" isn't giving her the information she really wants to know.  Remember, we want to make it easy for her to hire us.

If you do have some issues, however, like day care closing at 6 and no one else in your life to help you, please be honest about this.  It's not necessarily a bad thing. She may have the same issue.  And it may be that the salon can easily work with it if they really like you and feel you would be an asset to the team.

Remember how I told you about a new stylist that impressed me so much I held a spot for her for 3 months?  She had child care issues but she brought more benefits to our salon than liabilities.  She was worth our investment. So don't be afraid to be honest with the manager.  If you have answered her interview questions with confidence and in a positive manner I'm sure you have an excellent chance to overcome most obstacles you have in your life.          

You are starting your Beauty Career.

Let's Wrap This Up!

Can you see the difference between the answers you would have given without preparation and the answers you now know to give?

And can you clearly see how knowing the right answers to give an interviewer will push you to the head of the line.  You are as good as in!

I can promise you that 95% of new beauty career applicants do not have this knowledge or know how to use it. You do.  Knowledge is POWER.

So take this very seriously and consider your answers to each one.  Write them all out. Scratch through what doesn't work and keep working on it until you feel good about them all.  Have someone quiz you so the answers roll off your tongue.

Even if half of these questions never come up in the interview you will be more than prepared for whatever else she could ask you.  I promise.

Plus your confidence level is increased and your stress level is decreased. 

 You are so far ahead of the average applicant it will be a no-brainer for the hiring manager!

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