14 Things You Might Be Asked at a Hairdressing Trade Test
So you’ve passed the CV test and made it through an interview. That means the salon owner is definitely keen on you. Now you’ve got one last hurdle to climb: make it through the trade test and that job is yours.
Here’s what you can expect to be asked at a hairdressing trade test.
1. To bring at least one model – and up to four
Depending on the salon that you are applying for and how convinced by your experience they are, you will be asked to bring a model along for your hairdressing trade test. If you’re only asked to bring one model then it’s likely they will want to see a fairly dramatic transformation, so make sure you find someone who is ready for a new look.
2. To cut a graduated bob
The graduated bob is most employers’ go-to request for trade tests as it demonstrates sound technical ability and attention to detail. The graduated bob is a salon classic hairstyle that showcases your ability to judge the client’s hair type, head-shape and the way it will sit. If you can cut a decent graduated bob, you’re on track to cut any technical hairstyle.
3. To cut a men’s scissor-over-comb
The scissor-over-comb is another skill that shows whether you can walk the walk as well as talking the talk. It’s not just the cut that the employer will be looking at, they’ll also be watching how you handle yourself, your body shape, your positioning and how you interact with the model.
4. To do a long hair look
Long hair demonstrates your versatility. You might be asked for a Cheryl Cole-esque blow-dry or a hair up. Either way, the person you need to impress is going to be looking for something on-trend and very wearable.
5. To do highlights or a colour technique
Most trade tests will involve a hair colour model. The interviewer will be looking for a great consultation, appropriate colour choices and good application. Make sure you’re up to date with the latest colour trends – anything dated or stripy is going to scare your prospective employer off.
6. You won’t be asked to bring your own kit, but you will impress them if you do.
You can borrow any kit that you need from the salon, but it’s not going to send out the right message. It’s also worth giving your kit bag the once over. Make sure it is clean and remove any hairs from brushes or skin from combs. Combs with broken teeth should be replaced before the trade test and make sure you have plenty of grips if you’re asked to do an updo.
7. Who the model is
It can be tempting to bring along a friend or client whose hair you have been cutting every six weeks for years, but this will be taken into account and nothing less than perfection will be good enough. Using sites like Gumtree, salon guineapig or Be My Hair Model demonstrates your initiative and creates a more authentic experience that the salon manager will appreciate.
8. To carry out a consultation with the model
You’ve been asked to demonstrate a specific hair cut or colour, so it can be really tempting to just jump in and get on with it. This is a mistake. The person running the trade test wants to learn about your people skills and how you interact with clients, so make sure you carry out a thorough consultation. This will also enable them to appraise whether the finished result achieved the original goals.
9. To talk technical skills
At a trade test, you’re going to need to demonstrate two sides of your personality. Interact with your model as you would any other client, but make sure you’re also ready to answer technical questions about the cut and colour you are doing and the decisions you are making.
10. To demonstrate your product knowledge
Make sure you know in advance which product ranges the salon uses. If they’re products you already work with, that’s great news. If not, a little time spent researching the range and products that are the closest match to your favourites is a good investment. At the very least you should be able to answer generic questions about when and how you would use different hair products.
11. To discuss how you like to work and whether it will fit in with the salon
While 45 minute appointment slots are the norm, some salons operate in different ways and they’ll want to get a feel for how you like to work. If you are someone who likes to spend ages personalising a cut or tweaking a fringe, then you might not be right for a salon that needs you to churn out back-to-back appointments and vice versa.
12. About what customer care means to you
Your potential employer is going to make some assumptions about this based on the way you interact with the model and how you behave with any clients in the salon or staff you come into contact with. Ahead of the trade test, you should have a feel for the salon’s customer care policy and have a well thought-out answer of how this marries up to your standards.
13. To recap anything that came up in the interview
Most questions about salary, experience and terms of employment will have been discussed at the initial interview. If there was anything that wasn’t covered, this will come up at the trade test. It’s also a good idea to make note of any unanswered questions you have and make sure you find an opportunity to ask them.
14. To have plenty of time
The salon owner or manager is going to want to get a feel for how you fit in with the salon and the team and how committed to the role you are. Make sure that you have plenty of time and make an effort to interact with other team members. If you’re in a rush to get away, you could come across as one of those stylists who is going to leave the salon on the dot.
READ NEXTWorking as a hairdresser on a movie set sounds like the dream for lots of budding session stylists, but the reality isn't all glitz and glamour.