Interviewing as a massage therapist can be quite different than interviewing for most other jobs, so understanding exactly what may be expected can help you achieve interview success and land your ideal position.
Graduating from massage therapy school and passing your licensing exam are huge achievements, and ones you should be very proud of—but the next steps on your career journey are not yet complete.
There are various options for employment—working for yourself or working for another business—and you’ll then need to decide what would be the best option for you. If you decide that working for another business is the route that’s best, putting your efforts on finding a job is your next step—and after that comes the important step of interviewing for the job.
Interview preparation is essential to landing the job you want, especially if you are new to the industry. Being well-prepared and practiced not only can help to alleviate some of the stress associated with interviewing, it will help you be more comfortable, which can make you more successful in the interview.
For massage therapists, not only are you expected to perform a verbal interview but you are also expected to demonstrate your massage skills by performing a practical interview. You should prepare for both.
Research for Interview Success
After you have a well-put-together résumé and received a call back for your first formal interview, it’s time to start coaching yourself for the verbal portion of the interview.
A good place to start is with research on the company you are applying for. More often than not, the interviewer will expect for you to know at least a few things about the place of business. Part of knowing if the company would be a good fit for you is having a solid foundation of knowledge about it.
Strive to understand the employer, the requirements of the position, the background of the company and, if possible, the person interviewing you.
Not only will having this valuable information allow you to make a decision if this is truly the place you want to be, you’ll be better equipped to answer questions asked by the interviewer and you’ll set yourself up to ask insightful questions to the interviewer.
Practice Makes Perfect
Another key to interviewing successfully is to practice. Practicing with a friend or family member—even practicing in front of a mirror—can make a huge difference. If you aren’t sure what questions you should practice answering, a simple online search can be greatly beneficial.
These questions can range from the obvious: Tell me a little bit about yourself?; Why did you become a massage therapist?; What school did you attend?; What are your career goals within the [insert company name]— to the not-so-obvious: What are your career goals within the massage therapy industry?; What makes you look forward to going to work each day?; and What other skills, experiences and abilities outside of massage therapy and bodywork do you feel can be utilized at [insert company name]?
If you are able to role-play with another professional, be open to the feedback he gives you.
If you are able to video- or audiotape yourself during your practice interview, be sure to watch your facial expressions, tone of voice, mannerisms and body language. How can you improve, develop, or revise your answers or delivery?
The day before your interview, you may want to drive by the location of the interview, especially if you have never been there before. Always know exactly where you are going, as you don’t want any surprises on that very important day.
Make sure you have printed out extra copies of your résumé, and have a pen and a portfolio, which can include your massage therapy license and professional liability insurance, with you. (Many companies and states often require this documentation before they conduct a practical interview with you.)
If you will be providing a practical interview on the same day as your verbal interview, you may also want to inquire with your potential employer if you should bring lotion, linens and a table.
While the interviewer will likely have these supplies on hand, it is always a good idea to be in control of the session by being fully prepared. Lastly, have a notebook or paper to take any important notes during the interview.
Dress to Impress
An interview for a massage therapy position almost always includes doing a practical massage. That means it can definitely be confusing as to what to wear. Do you wear clothes you can do massage in? Or do you wear clothes to impress?
The best thing you can do is ask. Most companies will usually schedule their verbal interviews and their practical interviews on different days, which makes planning what to wear a bit easier, but it is always a good idea to double-check. Ask your potential employer what to expect the day of the interview so you can plan in advance.
When dressing for the verbal portion, remember that you are there for an interview, so dress accordingly. You may not need to dress up in a suit and tie, but professional slacks, dress or skirt, a professional blouse or collared shirt are appropriate.
For the practical portion of your interview, it’s even more important to remember you are still there for an interview. You should strive to portray yourself as an expert in your field, and looking like a professional is part of that.
Therapists I’ve interviewed and worked with have found success in wearing a basic scrub top and pants and closed-toe shoes or sneakers for their practical interviews. If your hair falls below your shoulders, it’s best to keep it in a ponytail. In addition, be sure your hands and nails are neat and clean.
If your verbal and your practical interviews are on the same day, you may consider wearing your dress clothes for the verbal interview and asking to change into your massage attire for the practical interview.
If you are unable to change your attire, then you may consider wearing comfortable but professional scrubs to the interview. This way you are dressed to massage, but you have a professional appearance.
If you don’t plan on being early the day of your interview, you’re already late. Plan to get to your interview 10 to 15 minutes early. By planning on arriving early, you not only allow for extra time to pump yourself up, you will show your interviewer that you take the interview seriously; you are a reliable person; and you are professional.
Remember, you are a massage therapist; in our world timing is everything. Being late is something most employers find unacceptable.
During the Interview
After arriving 15 minutes early, it’s time to show them the best you. You never know who works at the company or who will be interviewing you, so be courteous to everyone in and around the building.
Upon meeting your interviewer, be approachable. Smile and give a solid and confident handshake. Your handshake grip should be no harder than the strength that you would use to hold a door handle.
Once in the interview, engage with the interviewer. You can do this by discussing the company based on what you know from having researched it, your potential role, your background, and current trends in the industry. By doing this you are letting the interviewer know that you stay informed and up to speed as trends evolve.
Be sure you are speaking the right body language by sitting up straight, keeping fidgeting to a minimum and keeping gum out of the interview room. Listen to what the interviewer has to say about the business, and about your roles and responsibilities.
Asking questions is important, too. Remember, you are interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you. Think of a few questions you would like answers to. Don’t be afraid to clarify anything you are not sure of, especially if you misheard something. Be sure to clarify it right then, to avoid any confusion or miscommunication.
Also take notes. You may not be able to remember everything the interviewer has told you, and note-taking shows that you are taking an interest in your potential position.
The Practical Interview
For some new therapists who are just starting out, the practical interview can be a nerve-racking moment in the process. Don’t let it be. It’s important to be yourself as much as possible during this time, and to treat the interviewer as you would any first-time client.
If you are nervous, it will show through your touch, so stay confident in your skills, because that will show through, too. Remember that the interviewer is looking to see what you can do, if you have the potential to be coached, and have the potential to grow as a therapist.
Perform a proper pre- and post-consultation, as your interviewer may be looking to see your technique in assessing and educating clients.
Be sure to listen to any cues the interviewer drops throughout the practical interview, whether she is asking for lighter pressure or deeper pressure, or if she is asking for education on what you may be working on.
It may not be just to test you, but to see how you will potentially work with one of their clients.
Once the interview is complete, ask about the next steps in the process, and a timeframe in which the employer expects to make a decision. This will give you an idea of when you should hear from them, and if that timeframe passes you have a reason to check back in with them.
Thank the interviewer for his time. I recommend doing this in person as you are leaving, but following up with a handwritten thank-you note is a gesture that is greatly appreciated and can help you stand out among other candidates.
One last piece of advice for interviewing is to remember to be considerate and honest. If you have changed your mind or decided that interviewing with a company is not what you want to do, let that interviewer know.
You expect the company you interview with to be honest and courteous to its potential team members; it’s only right that we as potential new team members do the same. If there is productive feedback that you can provide to that company, and if you can give valuable insight as to why as an interviewee you are no longer interested, that is information these employers want to know.
Remember that knowledge is power, and if they aren’t aware of what they can do to be better, they won’t get better. We all need a place to work, and if you have the ability to provide information to make better workplaces, we can help make that change.
About the Author
Nichole Alarcon (née Velez) L.M.T., is training and development manager for Massage Heights. She has written articles for massagemag.com including, “3 False Beliefs About Massage Sales Success,” “Master These 3 Steps to Please Even the Most Unhappy Customer,” “The Road to Leadership Success,” “Find the Right Job with a Topnotch Résumé” “How to Terminate a Client-Therapist Relationship,” “Do You Communicate to Build Long Term Clients?” and “Grassroots Marketing Can Bring Clients to Your Table.”