Hair Stylist
Technical Interview,
Hot Tips to Secure
Your Own Chair



I have some hair stylist technical interview tips to help you glide right through it.

Congratulations, btw, because you obviously made it through your interview.  I hope the interview techniques helped you get this far.

Remember this stuff?

Good, because you are about to use it!

Why do they want you to do a
Hair Stylist Technical Interview?

So the manager can access your technical abilities, no matter what your level.

I have had new hair stylists shake all the way through it.  Nerves are to be expected, but you want to have some control over it or you will look like a total goof.

They know you are green but guess what, they are actually looking for other things in addition to your cutting abilities.

Seeing you on the salon floor gives them a lot of information about you.

Like, how do you look in their salon, how comfortable are you in your own skin, how are your consultation skills, do you pay attention to sanitation, are you respectful of the other stylists and your working environment, do you take constructive criticism, are you willing to learn, do you have an attitude toward authority, how do you treat the client in the chair, how is your time management, are you prepared?

Wow, are you surprised by all of this?  Good thing you checked this out before you went for your hair stylist technical interview, huh?

So now you have an idea what the manager is looking for. Let's talk about what to expect and how you can kill it.

Preparations for your Hair Stylist Technical Interview


You have likely already had your face to face interview and the manager asked you to return for the hair stylist technical interview.

Hopefully, you took my advice and have your models ready and waiting.  A manager will usually ask you to bring a model because they have no idea what level skills you have and she doesn't want to take a chance of jacking up one of their own clients.  We have discussed the value of a client and they are not willing to risk it.

Before the hair stylist technical interview you should have asked what she would like to see you do. Does she want you to do a simple haircut on a woman? Or on a man? Does she want to see your highlighting skills?  Knowing ahead of time what she would like to see will put you ahead.  It doesn't need to be a guessing game.

If she was hoping to know how fast you are with highlights and you brought a male model, you have kind of shot yourself in the foot! You want her to get the best possible assessment of you. Make it easy for her and ask ahead of time.

Unless you are interviewing for a male salon, I suggest you take a female model so you can really showcase your skills.

Wendy, Salon Manager, Orlando, Florida

Most technical interviews I do with new stylists leave me wanting more. I mean, I really want to "see" them....you know what I mean?

They will bring in a friend or their mother and timidly go through a cut. I see no consultation because they talked about it on the way to the salon. Then they do a quick blow dry and tell me they are finished.

I check the cut for accuracy and tell him or her that I will call them in a few days.

They pack up, thank me and leave.  But more times than not I am disappointed because I want to see a new stylist that has a real future in this business, and honestly I don't see a lot of them.

Know your model's hair.  Pre-plan together how you will cut her hair and know how to do that cut.  If you need some help with this go to Scissorboy.com and look up the technique you are looking for, like cutting long layers or framing the face. Practice on your mannequin if you can.

Style your model's hair at least once before the hair stylist technical interview to be sure you know how. Discover the best tools for the job.

If she has bone straight hair maybe you should take your curling iron.  If she has frizzy hair bring your straightener.

And remember to bring the appropriate products you will need to finish the style for your hair stylist technical interview.

Bring all of the tools you will need and have them in a nice bag or case. Bring your own clips, brushes, blow dryer, flat iron, scissors, razor, hand mirror (just in case there isn't one at the station),  etc.

The salon should have neck strips at each station. Be sure to use them! They will also have a salon cape for you to use.

I would even suggest getting a can of spray equipment disinfectant. You can pick it up at Sally's Beauty Supply.  This will prove your dedication to sanitation and concern for your clients.

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Be dressed like a professional hair stylist that works in THAT salon.  This is so important I have to say it again.  Dress like THEM. Especially at your hair stylist technical interview you want to plant the seed in the manager's mind that you are part of the team already.  You are an easy transition onto her salon floor.

Make sure that your model looks like a client that would be seen in that salon.  If it's a funky downtown salon that caters to young professionals don't bring your grandmother.

Every element needs to match for you to stand out.

Stand out in the hair stylist technical interview to insure your chair in the salon.

You and your model should go together to the salon instead of meeting there.  This is too important an opportunity to risk it.

What if your model is late?  It throws off the manager's schedule and makes you rush through the hair stylist technical interview.  Then you are preoccupied with worry while you are doing the service. 

What if she is early?  Then she is sitting in the lobby waiting on YOU and boy, that is no way to start!  Even if you are right on time it's too late because all the manager sees is a client waiting on you to arrive.  That is a bad image.

Power Pose before you leave home to give you that needed boost of confidence.


Now you are there.
How to do a Hair Stylist
Technical Interview that
will win the manager's heart.

You want to give the manager every reason in the world to hire you.

You want to showcase your strengths and show her how you will be an asset to her salon.

You do this by giving her more than she expects.

You are going to arrive at your hair stylist technical interview within a 10 minute window.  Anywhere from 10 minutes early to right on time.  More than 10 early and the manager may not be ready for you. Past the scheduled time and you are late.  If you show up late to an interview with me....we are done.  I won't even do the technical. Think that's hard ass? Not when it translates into salon life!  If you will be late to a job interview there is no doubt in my mind you would keep our clients waiting and homey don't play dat.

The manager will tell you where to set up.

Now pay attention, because here is where we start the DAZZLE!

Most new hair stylists will take their buddy with them to the station while they set up, talking to them the whole time about being nervous or whatever.

Keep in mind that every, and I do mean every, thing that is said and done by you right now is being monitored.  I want you to show everyone that you are not THAT green and you are a true professional.

Treat your model as a client from the moment you walk into the salon!!!!

Ask your model to relax for a moment in the lobby while you set up your station.

Unpack your equipment. Make sure it is clean. Lay out your tools. Push your products to the side.  Do not clutter the station.  Keep everything neatly organized. (You want the manager to see that you work clean) Make sure you have neck strips and a cape available and ready. 

 When you bring your client back you want to get straight to work without having to hunt things down.

Ask the manager or the receptionist if it is alright to shampoo your client.  If so, ask where the towels are kept and where the soiled ones go. If she doesn't want you to shampoo your model for some reason you will need a spray bottle.  ALWAYS cut the hair wet in your hair stylist technical interview because we know as cosmetologists that you get a more precise cut with wet hair than dry.

Believe me, new hair stylists, you are making an impression right now!

Take your purse and equipment bag to the reception desk and ask if you may leave them behind the desk while you are with your model.  Why?  Because in a salon no one keeps their belongings at the station.  Your bags may be in another stylist's way or get in your own way. The best thing to do is take care of it. And it shows you are comfortable and confident.

Now that everything is organized, put away and ready, go to the lobby and get your model. Don't stand on the salon floor and call her name or wave her over. Go get her and walk with her to the station.  Ask her to have a seat.

Do a consultation.  No matter what you have already decided to do with her hair, the manager needs to actually see you do a consultation so you can dazzle her. Got it?

Stand in front of your model so she is speaking to your face, not through the mirror. Eye contact is important in a consultation so the client feels "heard." For a refresher go to the Dynamic Consultation page. Go behind the chair and repeat back to her what she just said she wanted. 

Run your fingers through her hair as you describe the cut and style. This little bit of body language is establishing your credibility.

"Ok Lauren, great! Let's go shampoo your hair first.  Follow me."

Take your model to the shampoo area (some call it the Back Bar).  Make sure you put a towel around her neck to protect her clothing and have a dry towel ready. (Pay attention in the salon to what the other stylists are doing. Do they drape their clients before the shampoo or after? Are clients in the shampoo area wearing capes or not?)

Do a proper shampoo and condition with whatever is available at the back bar.  If you know the product line it is a good idea to say something positive about it as it shows you are already thinking about retail sales.

Towel dry her hair and wrap it for the walk back to the station.  Please make sure she does not have water dripping down her face or on the floor.

If there is any hair left in the sink, get it out immediately.  You want to leave everything clean behind you. You would be amazed how many don't!

You are back at the station now. Drape her if she is not draped yet. Get as much water out of the hair as possible with the towel.  Comb it out and section.

Do You Have a Cutting System?

During a hair stylist technical interview I've noticed that some seem to take a lot longer than necessary. I wondered why. I discovered that many new hair stylists didn't have a cutting system, meaning they didn't have a beginning, a middle and an end. Therefore, they would get lost in a haircut and keep going over the same parts making the hair shorter and shorter.

The solution:  Know when to stop. Know when you are done by having your system.

Example of a Cutting System:

Beginning - Cut the perimeter

Middle - Cut a Mohawk strip from the front bang area to the nape. Connect the perimeter to the Mohawk strip.

End - Cross check and detail.

End of cut.

Do the haircut for your hair stylist technical interview. Work clean by using your clips and clean partings. Gently adjust the angle of your model's head by using both hands to guide her.  It's good to casually talk to her while you work.  Show the manager that you are comfortable being social. Smile and have fun! You are now a professional hair stylist doing what you worked hard for.

Try not to overthink the cut and know when to stop after you have cross checked your work.

Then style her hair and finish with the appropriate product.  Make sure your model is satisfied with the look.  If she has reservations the manager will spot it in a heartbeat.

Let the manager know when you are finished. 

Ready to Dazzle again?

Don't wait for her to ask you, but start telling her what your client requested during the consultation. Use professional words like 'consultation', 'long layers', 'shampoo' (not wash), 'texturized.'  Tell her how you delivered what your client wanted and tell her what products you used to achieve the look.

All of this makes you sound like a professional hair stylist!!

When the technical is over, have your model wait in the lobby while you clean up and pack.  Make sure to fully clean the station, sweep the floor and dispose of the soiled towels.  Leave the station cleaner than you found it.

How do you feel now?

If you did your hair stylist technical interview like this I can promise you that the manager is looking at you very favorably!  You definitely DAZZLED her.

Keep your attitude positive the whole time.  If she gives you any criticism, take it sincerely and thank her for her input. Note that you have a lot to learn and are anxious to do so.

And if the first one doesn't pan out, don't sweat it, because with these skills you will be behind the chair very, very soon!!  Any salon will be lucky to have you.

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