How to stand out in your hair interview and trade test

The most important thing I would recommend if you get to the interview stage of your application is to get straight to researching the salon; research everything before the interview. Initially, research the salon history; find out how long has it been open, if it is part of a group of salons and what are the opening hours? Find out how many stylists are there, if they have assistants and receptionists. You can determine if there any other team members and if so, what they do. The more you know about them the better; knowledge is power. It proves you are really interested in the position you have applied for.

Next comes the products. Find out what brand or brands of colour they use, as well as brands of shampoo and conditioner. Detect which styling products they use and if they have a treatment range. If any of the products used are familiar, talk about your knowledge and experience of using them, but if you haven’t used the particular brands that they are using then it’s time for some more research. 

You really need to know as much as possible to stand out from the crowd these days as there are usually lots of people applying for the same job. I should point out that if you haven’t worked with any of the products before, always be honest and tell the person interviewing you that you are not familiar with these particular products, but you have researched them. Showing that you are interested in using the products yourself will show determination and drive.

Next is the price list. This is always good to have a look at as it will show you all of the services that the salon offers. You can often tell a lot about the type of clientele that this salon attracts by the services that they are providing and the prices people are paying. Check out the price structure and titles of the team members as some salons have different levels of stylists. The staff’s titles will vary from salon to salon too and it’s always best to refer to anything with the correct terms that each individual salon uses as this again shows your strong interest in their salon.

The next thing is how to present yourself at the interview. Due to all your new found information through your research, you should now have lots of confidence to easily talk your way through this stage of the process, I would say always be yourself and dress as yourself too because Hairdressing isn’t usually (although it can be occasionally depending on the type of salon) a ‘suit interview’. Obviously you will pay particular attention to your hair for this occasion as it is important to show that you care about your appearance and that old saying of ‘first impressions count’ wasn’t created for nothing!

Ok, so if you have followed all of the above advice you will now find yourself being invited back to the salon for your  trade test (incase you didn’t know - this is usually a second stage of the interview process where you will be asked to return with a model or models to showcase your skills). The fact that you’ve got to this stage means you have impressed them so far, so once again you return to the salon (with your best hair of course!) but this time you are armed with a lovely, helpful friend who has agreed to be your model. 

You will have chosen a friend who is willing to have at least a bit of a change of style because you want the hair you are working on to look noticeably different, so as to ‘wow’ your potential new boss! Although it isn’t always the case because some salons will supply models and some will give you a list of what they want to see i.e. I went to a trade test myself once and I had to take 3 models: a men’s cut, a lady’s highlights + cut, and a full head tint with an interesting blow-dry on long hair.

Confidence is key with all trade tests and I know from experience that this can be a nerve racking experience. Keep calm and concentrate on the task in hand; try not to be distracted and try to forget you are probably being watched from a far corner of the salon somewhere! 

I’m sure that if you feel comfortable, by the time you have started to work on your client you will fit in well in that particular salon. I usually get ‘a feel’ for a workplace quite quickly, seeing the people I could be working with and the type of clients that the salon attracts. These things contribute greatly to your workplace happiness, so I believe that trade tests are as much for us as the team members as well as the employers because it’s like having a little trial to see if you like them too!

When considering who to take as a model (if it is your choice) think carefully about your choices. Don’t go overboard on an outrageous style; keep it simple and do it well is the best advice I could really give you right now. Although you are showing off your skills, you are also supposed to be showing yourself off as a confident stylist who fits in really well, not only with the rest of the team you could be working with, but also with the type of hairdressing that they would expect in that salon.

So basically the most important things to remember are research, confidence and of course, your very best hair. So now you are ready to go for it – GOOD LUCK! 

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