No one likes interviews.

If you’re just finishing up your cosmetology program and you’re looking for your salon home, the interview process can be intimidating.

You have questions: What do I look for in a salon? Will I like the stylists there? Will they like me? Will I fit in? Will I learn there? Will I be able to grow as a stylist?

If you’re a salon owner and you’re looking to grow your team, you know the struggles of recruitment. Owners generally have to go through a local cosmetology school’s career day or turn to Craigslist to find new stylists or apprentices and when there is an applicant, comes the dreaded interview process.

In an interview, it’s hard to get to know much about each other. Everyone puts their best foot forward and it’s hard to tell much more beyond what’s on a resume.

An alternative that works much better at creating a great match is a shadow day.

For apprentices and new stylists

As an apprentice or a new stylist, a shadow day gives you the opportunity to spend a day at a salon to immerse yourself in the culture. Each salon has a unique culture which encompasses many things like the atmosphere, the clientele, the work, the education, the growth potential and much more. These are all facets that are hard to learn about during a traditional interview, but spend a day at the salon and you’ll get to experience it all. Besides observing the hairstyling, talk to some of the stylists, ask questions about how they started out and their experience at the salon. Inquire about the education the salon offers and whether there is an opportunity for growth. The pace of a salon is also very important. Do you prefer a laid back relaxed atmosphere or do you work better under pressure when it’s very busy? It’s almost like a first date and you’ll know quickly whether you’ll want a second one. Because there is no commitment during a shadow day, it will take away some of the first day jitters and really allow you to make a better choice in a salon.

Before scheduling a shadow day, make a list of things you are looking for in a salon. Then, make sure to shadow at several types of salons that might be a good fit. As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Comparing salons will be a good step to finding your future salon home.

For Salon Owners

As a salon owner, a shadow day will reveal a lot more characteristics about a person than a regular interview. When an applicant spends a day with you, you can observe a lot about their personality;

– Are they outgoing or timid?

– Are they interested in the hair that’s being done… How closely are they observing?

– Does the way they represent themselves fit into the salon culture that you have spent years building?

– How does this stylist interact with your existing staff?

– What is their work ethic like…Did they arrive on time? Did they stay until the end of the day? Did they jump in to pick up a broom or wash a dish?

– Did they spend too much time on their phone?

These observations will allow you to make a much better hiring decision. It’s always good advice to hire slow, because letting someone go is rarely a positive experience.

How to set up a shadow day

Hairdojo allows for salons, stylists, and apprentices to make profiles and post job openings. An apprentice or stylists can look at the job postings and apply or request a shadow day through the site. The secret is that most salons are always looking for great new additions to their team so you can scroll through the salon on Hairdojo and request a shadow day at any salon that has the feature available.

So, to bring back the dating analogy, go on as many first dates as you need in order to find the perfect salon relationship

Happy shadowing.

About Hair Dojo

HairDojo is a connection hub for the Hair Industry. Conceptualized by a hairstylist salon owner, its purpose is to connect students, apprentices, stylists and salons with each other and the distributors and manufacturers that provide the tools and education in the industry.

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