Recently I had the pleasure of assisting to interview and hire a new spa team. With so many qualified applicants, and the need to build an especially strong team, I had to be extra critical of each interviewee. I always try to enter these situations giving each applicant the benefit of the doubt, knowing that the interview process can be intimidating and stressful, especially for therapists and technicians who are nurturing and creative. Some behavior however is a red flag, and triggers immediate thoughts of “deal breaker!” for me. Here are the top ten reasons that I will NOT hire you to work in a spa:
10. You’re A Shrinking Daisy. You arrive and look like you are trying to make yourself look so small that I hardly notice you’re there. Your handshake feels like a tiny lifeless rodent was gently placed in my palm. You speak softly, have terrified eyes, and apologize for your answers as soon as you offer them. Your hands-on treatment is hesitant and unsure.
In actuality, I would love to coach you and help you gain the confidence that you deserve, but I don’t have time for that kind of one-on-one with a new team launch, or a successful and busy spa. In your current state, a demanding guest would chew you up and spit you out. If this is you, I feel for you, I REALLY do. I’ve been there. My advice: do not give up. Practice your hands-on and interview skills with friends, and go on interviews for jobs that you do not want until you can walk in with your head held high, smiling and making eye contact as you confidently return my gentle (yet very much alive) handshake.
9. You’re A Bull in a China Shop. Lack of self-worth is no issue with you. In fact....there IS actually such a thing as too much confidence. You talk so long about your accomplishments that I have to interrupt you just to get thru my five standard interview questions so that I am not late for my next appointment. During your hands-on treatment demo, you take no time to connect with my body or introduce your touch in a safe or nurturing way. In fact, I have to repeatedly ask you to use less pressure because you are hurting me, all while you go on and on about your celebrity clients. If you are not tuned into MY needs, someone who is comfortable speaking up during a treatment regarding pressure, temperature, etc. (not to mention someone who is evaluating your qualification for a position on our team) how will you ever focus on the needs of our spa guests, many of whom are having a treatment for the first time and do not know how to communicate their needs? I’m just not going to take that chance. EVER.
8. You Have No Idea Why You Are Here. During the interview when I ask you why you are applying for the job, your reaction is akin to me quizzing you on the meaning of life. You look mildly shocked and dazed when I ask you why you would like to work at this location or for this company. Be prepared and be truthful. All I am looking for is a simple “I’m not getting enough bookings where I am now,” or “this spa is right in my neighborhood so I will spend less time commuting,” or better still “I checked out your website and I really liked _____, ______, and ______ about your company.” DO YOUR HOMEWORK. This isn’t a part time high school job, this is your CHOSEN CAREER. You should be trying to steer it in the direction of your future goals. Goal oriented people work hard, are accountable, and have the potential to grow in and with a company. Show me a little passion!
7. You Have No Time to Spare. I’m patient and understanding if you need to schedule your interview at a time that is inconvenient for me. After all, you are already employed elsewhere, and have a commitment to that employer. Once we finally connect however, if we go thru this whole process and I am ready to hire you, and you then tell me something along the lines of “I can only be on call every other Tuesday from noon to 3pm,” I am going to have to take three deep breaths before I respond. My commitment needs were clear in the job description that you responded to with your application. Why, why, why would I want to spend hours of effort and resources training you in our practices, procedures and protocols for 3 hours a week of commitment?
If this is all you can offer a potential company, I’m not discouraging you from reaching out however. Please just tell us from the beginning. There is no reason to waste our time and yours with a long interview process if it is not going to be a fit. While this incredibly part-time arrangement would NEVER work for a front desk position, I do, in fact, often love to have on-call therapists and technicians who can jump in here and there and perform basic services that require just an hour or two of guest interaction training. Usually when those therapists reach out, I let them know that I will re-connect with them once my core team is hired in order to bulk up any schedule deficiencies.
6. You Have No Filter. A spa is a professional, inclusive, nurturing environment. If you launch into personal problems, politics, religion, or any other divisive dialogue during a job interview, I’m terrified of the so called “small talk” that you will be drumming up behind closed treatment room doors. Yes, of course it’s ok to tell me that you do not have availability for a certain shift each week because of child custody, religious reasons, or that you like to take a week of every four years because you volunteer for a political campaign, etc. That’s great, we all have our beliefs, commitments and personal lives! However, casually mentioning your ugly divorce, your vote for_____, or belief in ______ three times during the question “what makes you a good therapist,” makes me a bit concerned that this is not an internal dialogue, but a public one. Bottom line- the spa is not an appropriate place to campaign, preach, or seek advice about your relationship troubles! Guests are paying you to escape their problems for a brief time, not to hear all about yours!
5. You Are A Robot From Outer Space. When you are being interviewed, please know that it is appropriate and expected that you answer questions with more than one word, and that you return a smile when one is offered. I have already read your resume or application, and decided that your credentials are in line for you to fulfil the technical components of the position that you are seeking. The whole purpose of an in-person interview is to get to know your personality. Please have one!
4. Oh, Look What the Cat Dragged In. Most people try to look their best during a job interview. In fact, it is not uncommon for an applicant to look more put together for their interview than when they start clocking in for work! It is human nature to try to put your best self out there, and we all know first impressions stick. So please do not show up for an interview looking like you just rolled out of bed!
I’m not advising that you present yourself as anything other than the genuine “you.” Don’t, for example, feel the need to pile on makeup if you normally don a natural look, but do come appropriately dressed and deodorized. If something prevents this, please be clear about it when scheduling your face-to face. If you need to come right from your current job grooming dogs for example, please just mention it. “Yes, I can be there for a 4pm interview if I come right from work at the groomers in my puppy cartoon scrubs. If we could do 5pm however, I can freshen up first, which would you prefer?” Personally, I would likely tell you it’s ok to come as you are....because you demonstrated to me that you know that professional appearance is part of the expectations of the position for which you are interviewing.
3. You Are Late. There is an old expression that I hear in my head every time I need to be somewhere important: “On time is late.” I love to see an applicant patiently waiting for me about 10 minutes early for their interview. This means that they take this opportunity seriously enough to do everything in their power to prevent showing the disrespect of being late. This usually means that they are responsible and will do the same thing every time they are scheduled to work. Showing up late for an interview and brushing off tardiness with a quick “traffic was bad” is not acceptable. Even worse? Not even making an excuse, and hoping I don’t notice. Of course I notice. The whole point of this exercise is to evaluate everything that you do, and to try to make an informed guess as to how you will perform on our team.
So what happens if you actually did all this, and something truly unexpected is making you late anyway? Unless you are risking your own personal safety, pick up the phone and call to tell me what is going on, and when you expect to arrive. And if you no-show....you’ve blown it.
2. You’re A Princess. All teams have to work together to make a spa operation run smoothly. That means everyone folds towels, washes teacups, and empties the trash from time to time. Yes, your chief job function may be to give spa services, or greet guests and schedule appointments, but everyone on a team has to chip in to do the less glamorous jobs. I’ve done every one of them myself over the years, and even some so utterly disgusting that I would rather do them myself than ask a member of my team to do so. So if you state something along the lines of “do I have to bring the laundry cart downstairs in this job? They expect me to do that at my current position, and it is embarrassing,” that is a big strike against you. Why is it embarrassing to show that you work with your team to ensure that the guest has the best possible experience, including fresh clean linens to relax on during their treatment? If you run into a guest in the hall, smile proudly and wish them a wonderful evening, knowing that you give them 100% of your care, 100% of the time!
1. You Play The Blame Game. If you answer every interview question with a complaint about your current or previous employer, manager, or teammates, I will not hire you. Period. If something has been wrong with every person you have ever worked for, I’m sorry, but chances are you will feel the same way in this job, and in reality, chances are that YOU are the problem. It would best serve you to realize that it is time for some serious self-reflection. Having said this, we have all had jobs where we have left because of poor leadership, and it is ok to articulate that in an interview, backing it up with solid facts, and moving on to something more positive. It is more impressive to focus on the positives of any previous position, like what you learned about how to interact with a team in a negative setting, and how you apply that to your current professional philosophy.