Hiring Practices

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People and leadership issues are the primary time-consuming focuses of every business owner, and any person who owns or leads a business knows the facility is only as good as the people who are working within it.

Spa owners hiring out of desperation—as opposed to inspiration—will have serious challenges. Filling a position simply by installing someone as quickly as possible seldom works. It is better to hold off in the hiring process in order to find the right person. Even if this mistake has been made in the past, there is always the opportunity to turn the situation around.

In order to hire the best team members for your clients, as well as the health of your business, it is essential to clearly define the characteristics and attributes an employee must possess before becoming a part of your organization.

Essential traits

There are 15 specific traits you need to look for in a ideal team member, and these traits should be non-negotiable. The three main criteria to look out for include knowledge, skills and attitude, and the resulting 15 traits should all fall under these headings. See The 15 Must-have Traits to note what you need to look for in a new team member.

Remember, people can be trained in the knowledge and skills arenas, so it is most vital that new team members have the right attitude, which cannot be trained. The 15 must-have traits build the framework of the candidate and should be used as the basis of integral interview questions and processes. Start with these qualities, and expand on them as the position and business requires.


When working around the issue of recruitment, the more innovative, consistent and aggressive you can be, the more likely you are going to find the right kind of team members. Hiring is a 24–7 process, and all spas should be continually accepting applications and even bringing people in for interviews, if there are not positions currently available. This helps keep employers open to the best potential employees, despite any adverse timing issues.

To encourage continual interest for applicants, have a “Join Our Team” tab on your spa’s website where people can fill out an online application. Things can change rapidly and you never know when the need for a new team member will arise, so keeping as many options as possible available to you is a smart move.

Hiring resources

Even finding the right people to interview can take immense amounts of time, so using some tried-and-true screening methods can be incredibly helpful in your search. Options such as classified screening and Internet marketing can save you countless hours across the desk from an interviewee who clearly isn’t the right fit for your business.

Classified screening. When advertising an available position via a classified ad, it should be as specific as possible in order to eliminate individuals who are not appropriate for the job. The ad also should provide enough information and details about the position, its compensation structure, benefits and other noteworthy aspects to entice the right types of candidates.

Have classified respondents call into a voice mail system and leave a message. This is their first impression for you, and you can use it as a method to weed out applicants. Another option is to have candidates fax or e-mail in their résumés so you can review their work histories and discern if there is a match between the business culture and mission your spa provides and the person applying for the position.

Internet marketing. Think of resources such as Monster.com and Craigslist as tools at your disposal when hunting for a new staff member. Reviewing applicants that have submitted résumés and job interests into these sites can save you time and hassle, because they can narrow likely candidates down to those who would truly fit the bill for your open position.

Also, the Internet can be quite affordable and have a broader reach to attract your potential new team member. With this larger reach, you have the ability to connect with an ideal team member who may happen to currently live in another section of the country. You can also use Internet resources such as Facebook and MySpace to peruse how potential candidates represent themselves in the online community at large.

The interview process

The interview process should be formatted to be as time-efficient as possible, so it is important to be focused on the essential interview steps.

The logical first step for the process would be a pre-screen phone call. Spending five minutes on the phone with each potential candidate, asking a few questions vital to the available position, will help determine each candidate’s viability. If the person doesn’t seem like she is an appropriate fit, thank her for her time and move on to your next candidate.

If the candidate does seem like someone that might fill your open position nicely, invite her in for a brief, in-person interview. For this interview, impressions are important. Look for a well-groomed and fashionable image that fits with your spa’s culture. It is the burden of the candidate to impress the owner with her image, so take note if she appears to have put her best foot forward in regard to her appearance.

Also, notice nonverbal communication cues, such as good eye contact and open body language. Nonverbal cues make up 60% of communication and can say more than verbal cues. People who seem open and friendly are more likely to be adaptable, while those who seem closed off and defensive may raise a red flag.

Additionally, watch the person’s tone and outlook. Is she coming across as someone who is positive or negative? How was her working relationship with her last employer? Signals in demeanor and attitude during an interview are important, because they can portend the relationships and attitudes a candidate will possibly create if she is hired for the position.

If the candidate is not a fit, thank her for her time and move along, but if it seems like there is a future for her at your spa, continue the process by calling at least three of her professional references to find out about her experience, background and professional attitude in the workplace.

Next, bring the still-remaining candidates back in for a second interview. This time, choose an outside location, such as a coffee shop or restaurant. Look for consistency in her communication skills and the image she presents. Also, get down to brass tacks with your interview questions at this point. See Characteristic Questions to review a list of interview questions that are based on candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. Make sure to focus on any potential issues you could see arising, because it would be better to find this out now, as opposed to after you hire a candidate. Discuss compensation and, if appropriate, set up a technical interview. The candidate should give clear and direct responses to all your questions, helping you to make the best decision for your spa.

Upon completion of the second—or third, if necessary to qualify her skills—interview and once you have made your decision on the candidate that best suits your business, your clients and the open position, set aside time with the new team member to review and sign the employee manual and her job description.

Setting clear expectations

Team members need to have clear job descriptions before their first day of working in the spa. The job description should detail the duties required and the expected level of performance. It is also important when working with staff to have conversations about expectations. People thrive when they have a structure to follow, and the employee manual and job descriptions clearly state what is expected of them and what they can expect from the business in return.

The most important motto a spa owner or manager can adopt when looking for people to fill positions is to “hire hard and manage easy.” The time, effort and financial commitment it takes to hire people who are not the right fit for the business’s culture are too costly, but the benefits of putting in the work up front to find the right person the first time around can be numerous.

Bryan Durocher is the author of Wake Up … Live the Life You Love in Beauty (Global Partnership, LLC, 2006), an expert for Health Journal TV and Life and Leisure TV, a contributor to NBC South Florida Today, and the founder of Durocher Enterprises. Durocher Enterprises provides coaching, consulting, global industry trends, marketing solutions, and websites and e-commerce development for spas, medical spas and industry professionals internationally.

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