Tips on Recruiting New Beauty Salon Staff

Published on: 16 Sep 2018

The staff are the heart of your business, treating your clients and influencing if they are going to come back to your salon or not! It’s a big task and important to get it right, which can be quite daunting.

There’s a moment of dread when a member of staff hands in their notice. Not only is it very disappointing to be losing a member of your team but it also brings visions of recruitment ads, interviews, expense and what is a potentially time consuming process - finding someone to replace them. On the plus side you might need more staff due to expansion or just being so busy, which is never a bad thing!

The very first step I would take is to write a list of exactly what I’m looking for: what treatments I’d like them to be trained in; what experience they would need; the hours I’d need them to do. Work out what on your list is absolutely essential from a candidate and what would be desirable or a bonus. Your candidates might not tick every box, you won’t get an exact replacement for your current therapist, but work out which attributes or skills are most important.


Next would be to look through any CVs that you might already have. Whenever I get sent CVs I always keep them in a file, even when there isn't a vacancy. I try to send a reply to let the person know that I will keep it on record for the future and then I write the date on the CV of when it was sent in. This comes in really handy when a vacancy does arise, if you can find a good CV at this stage this might save you advertising the vacancy and save a bit of time. Look at the list you have written and look through the CVs and try and find good matches.

Even if the CVs had been handed in a while ago and the person may be working somewhere else, they could still be interested in the position. The two members of staff who I currently employ are both examples of this, as I had their CVs on file for over a year before I called them for an interview.


If the CVs that have been handed in do not match your criteria, then the next step would be to advertise. Depending on whether you want your clients to know that you are recruiting or not you could do this for free using your salon. Advertising in the salon window, on your website or through social media could attract applicants directly or through word of mouth.

Of course you might prefer to be a bit more discreet at this stage. It is difficult to keep your clients in the dark completely as they could see any advert even if it is not directly through the salon. Other methods of advertising you could try with varying costs are recruitment websites, local newspapers, beauty magazines or an agency.

When you write your advert bear in mind that you want to attract people to apply. What you don't want is to spend money on an advert and end up with no or little applicants! You can give as much or as little detail as you like, but any plus points will attract more people.

So make sure to include anything you consider to be good about the job- maybe you offer training; or good hours such as some weekends off or minimal evenings; possibly you offer a good salary or commission scheme. If there's anything that you require such as full or part time, a minimum level of experience or certain treatment training you might want to include this too so that you don't get unsuitable applicants.

The interview

So hopefully you now have some candidates for interviews. Once you get to this stage I always think it's a good idea to have your CVs together each with their own notes page. This way you have their all their details to hand and can start making notes from the very beginning, even when arranging the interview I would think about their phone manner and make notes on it.

You may want to divide your applications or CVs into groups based on your list at the beginning of what you're looking for:

  • First choices (people that match all or most of your criteria)
  • Second choices (people who match most or some).

Out of the best applications set up your initial first group of interviews and if this is not fruitful then you can move onto the next group. This might save you a bit of time rather than setting up lots of interviews at once.

Preparation for the interview is key; have a list of questions that are based on what is important to you as the employer. You can devise your questions partly based around the original list that you wrote of what you are looking for. The interview is your chance to find out all about the candidate so think hard about what you want to know, you don't want to be left afterwards realising you missed something out.

First of all maybe you'd like to get to know a bit about them. Although a lot of people do dread the 'So tell me about yourself question' it does give you an idea about the person and also how well they answer can show you how confident they are and how good their social and communication skills are.

You will also want to include some questions that will give you more information on their work experience and qualifications.


  • Where have they worked before?
  • What were their responsibilities?
  • What treatments did they do?
  • What did they enjoy about it?
  • Is there anything they didn't like about it etc.
  • They might be trained in other treatments or might be interested in doing more training.

Next you could find out more about them as a therapist and why they'd like to work for your salon. These questions are quite good to find out whether you think they'd fit in well and if the salon would suit their needs and likes. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What treatments do they like doing best. Why they want to work in your salon. What things are important to them when working in a salon? You could also throw in some scenario type questions such as how they would cope with clients or different situations.

You will also need to know practical things. This could include what hours they can work, how flexible they are, pay etc. The interview is a two-way process so give them the opportunity to ask questions too. Be very clear about what you want and what you need from them. As much as you are looking to see if they are right for your salon from your point of view, they need to make sure the salon is right for them too. You wouldn't want someone to start the job and then realise it's not for them and leave very quickly

The trade test

The trade test is a very important part of the interview. The candidates’ skills as a therapist will be a make or break. Put yourself in your client’s shoes as well as looking at them from a technical point of view. Things like, do they make you feel at ease. How well they explain things will be as important as the quality of the treatment, how good the results are and hygiene etc.

Usually two short treatments are about average for a trade test. It's up to you which ones you do. Try and think about what your most popular treatments are and what it is important that they will be good at. If relaxing treatments are popular at your salon perhaps a back massage or mini facial. If you do mainly nails then the best trade test might be a nail paint or some gels on just a few fingers etc.

If retail is quite important to you then maybe you could get them to do some aftercare and recommendations with you at the end or a role play of how they would sell to you. A trade test will show you what they will be like with your clients, so you need to be happy that they would make your clients feel satisfied with their treatment and want to come back. If you would be happy with the standard of treatment they gave you if you had been to a salon and paid for it this is a good sign. Take into account that they will be nervous though and it is always more nerve wracking doing treatments on someone who knows the trade so make allowances for that.


By this time you should have an idea if you have any potential candidates. If you haven't found anyone that matched your criteria or if there was just no one that blew you away then you may want to continue looking. You could look through your CVs or applications again and if there were any on a second list that you hadn't called first time round then call them to arrange an interview. Some people aren't very good on paper but can be surprisingly impressive in person. You could also continue advertising your vacancy and wait for some more applicants.

If you're on a time schedule this can be tricky. One of your therapists might be leaving soon and you need to replace them or you might be very busy and turning down business so you really need someone as soon as possible. If this is the case and you are really struggling then you need to act quickly;

Have you got enough applicants? If not you may want to use a different method of advertising or change your current advert to make it more appealing.

Are you asking too much? Maybe you are expecting a bit too much from your applicants. If this is the case then look for potential rather than perfection.

Whittling down

Maybe you have a few people who you are unsure about or a few that have really impressed you but you can't decide between them! You could always invite them for a trial day at the salon. This way you can really get a feel of how the person works and if they fit in well at the salon. It gives the therapist a very good idea of what working at the salon is like as well so they will know if they will like it or not which again will prevent any job acceptances who may leave quickly.

In situations where even after a trial day you really can't decide which person to offer the job to, the best advice I can give is to go with your gut instinct. Failing that is there any way you could take on both? Perhaps you have enough work for both or maybe they could share the hours.

So after all the stages there will be one person (or maybe two) that gets the job. This means possibly a lot of people being left disappointed. I think it’s polite to always call any applicants and let them know they have been unsuccessful. If they ask for feedback then be honest with them and give them the reasons why. If it was someone who was very close then again I would be very honest with them and maybe let them know that if any vacancies arise they will be the first one you will call. Of course they may have found another job by then but they might still be interested and by keeping all their details it might make your job hunt a lot easier next time round!

Finding staff can be a big challenge but when you do find someone it all becomes worth it. You have given someone a new opportunity and have hopefully made a great addition to your business. I think it is something that is worth really taking some time over and finding the right person because they can make such an amazing difference to your salon!