Should you call references before hiring a new stylist?
The biggest mistake that salon owners make in the hiring process are NOT checking the references of a potential hire.
Finding the right people to fill your roles is the single biggest challenge in the beauty industry today, You can't decide to grow into a multi-location business without having people in the correct parts who have the skills needed to succeed in their roles. It isn't uncommon for a salon owner to decide to hire a hairstylist for a management position to help grow their business who only has experience behind the chair and no actual business experience.
It is also commonplace for a stylist who is applying for a management position who has a resume that says they have the experience necessary to fill the role but have embellished their resume.
Remember, a resume is always a record of embellished accomplishments with all the low points removed. A resume is an Instagram filter for their professional career. We have to get past those filters to find out who the person is, and if they fit into our salons in the roles we need, and we need someone to thrive in those roles.
When you have a position that will be responsible for the growth of your salon, which every position is, even down to the mail tech, you must be extremely diligent in your hiring process. Remember, if you want to grow your business, you have to have A level employees, the only way to make sure you have A level employees and not a salon full of B and C employees who will hold you back is by checking the references.
So now we understand that checking references is a vital part of the hiring process, how do we get references?
Typically, references are included at the end of a resume, and the ones that are included are the people closest to the person applying for the position. These are not often the references you want to check.
When I am performing targeted hiring and interviews for a client, during the second interview, I ask for references, and this is precisely how I do so.
I ask them about their last three bosses. I ask what that boss will say about your performance when I talk to them? What will that boss say your strengths were, what will that boss say your weaknesses were? I ask them about what their coworkers would say about their strengths and weaknesses as well. I do it in this manner, so the potential hire understands that I will be calling these people, so they have to be honest about everything, or they will not move forward in the process. After they let me know, and I have written their responses down, I ask them to contact those people to set up a phone call with me to discuss their employment. I give them a 3-day window with specific times, often between 1-6 pm, to set up a call for me and to email me the times of the calls. For the references, I ask for all bosses and for two coworkers from each salon they worked at. Typically, I contact 9-12 references per interviewed hairstylist, and so should you. Every reference and the information that reference gives gets documented on the scorecard that gets presented to the employer as well as their interview grade and the potential hires' ability, knowledge, and drive to impressively do the job they are applying for.
As you can see, this in-depth interview may take extra time to correctly do, but, it is going to filter out all of the B, C, and worse hairdressers so that your salon is only filled with the best talent possible. Consider this extra work as a time investment that will pay HUGE dividends for your business in the future.
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