Preparing for a Massage Interview - What Every Massage Therapist Should Know and Ask
By Laurie Craig
Before you can start working as a massage therapist, you have to perform a massage interview to get the job, and interviewing for a massage position is quite different than most other interview processes. For many massage therapists, the first job they hold directly out of massage school is for a chiropractor, or a spa / salon owner instead of working as an independent contractor, and it's important to know what to ask in order to accept the right position. Understanding if you will work as an employee or an independent contractor - especially when a massage therapist is beginning his or her practice - is helpful when deciding where to work.
Why You Need a Resume and Cover Letter When Interviewing for a Massage Position
While you will not be sitting at a desk or crunching numbers, you do need to prepare a resume and cover letter for your anticipated massage interview. Even though it is a non-traditional environment, your employer will want to see that you are a professional massage therapist who can represent himself or herself adequately, and a well-written cover letter can show that you have good communication skills - an invaluable asset when working with a diverse set of clients. Be sure to include information about your school, your modalities, and your intended certifications - the more a potential employer knows about you and your specific interests, the more you will stand apart from the rest of the crowd and the higher the likelihood that you will soon be interviewing for the massage position.
Coming in for a Massage Interview
When you receive a call to come in for an interview, prepare to actually give a massage. This might surprise some applicants, but you are interviewing for a massage position, and your employer wants to know what you can do and what your style is like. Because you want to be comfortable while giving the massage, be sure to wear an appropriate outfit for both a massage and an in-person interview. Often, clean, long black yoga pants and a collared shirt will do just fine. Unlike most interviews where applicants are expected to wear slacks and a button-down shirt, your potential employer will expect a massage therapist to be dressed for the test massage. Just to be sure, when you schedule the massage interview, ask over the phone what would be appropriate attire. Additionally, it is always a good idea to arrive at the massage interview fully prepared - a massage therapist should bring supplies to the interview such as sheets, and lotion or oil. 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.
When interviewing for a massage position, depending on the size of the business, a human resources person or the owner will likely be the first person to sit down with you for a few moments and talk with you about your education and experience. During the massage interview, be prepared to talk about what you learned in school, what your strongest and weakest modalities are, what you envision for yourself as a massage therapist, and about your previous experience with clients. Then you will give a test massage, either an abbreviated (30 minutes or less) or standard (one hour) massage, showing your abilities to give Swedish and deep tissue massage. Interviewing for a massage position sometimes, but not often, involves you being asked to display competence in additional modalities that you have listed on your resume such as hot stone therapy, or sports massage.
It is important to be yourself during the massage interview. Just relax and give the same massage that you would give to a client. Do not be nervous, because it will come through in your touch. Your employer is looking to see your skill as a massage therapist, and the more natural and relaxed you are the better interviewing for the massage position will go.
Getting the Job and Working
If the massage interview goes well and you get the job, you will likely begin either as a full-time or part-time massage therapist. Be sure to speak with your employer up front about the method of compensation and your designation as either an employee or an independent contractor, because these are very different and can make a big impact on your revenue and tax filing at the end of the year. This is a very important question to ask when interviewing for the massage position as employees are expected to work during a set number of hours, can only work for one employer at a time, and must comply with the employer's standards of service and instructions about how to deliver massage therapy. From a financial standpoint, make sure that you understand during the massage interview if you will be an employee, as employers pay the majority of the employee's taxes, and the massage therapist is often eligible for benefits such as health insurance and paid vacation time.
Unlike employees, independent contractors are typically able to set their own hours, and are paid a percentage of the total revenue they bring into a business. They tend to have more flexibility about the type of massage protocol delivered and the types of services offered. If this is the type of work environment you have envisioned, you should establish this when interviewing for the massage position. For example, a massage therapist who is an employee at a large spa will be expected to adhere to the standard services as listed on a published menu of services but a contractor should legally have more flexibility. During the massage interview, ask if customers expect to receive a comparable massage regardless of which therapist they see, and if therapists are expected to closely maintain a massage protocol. If a massage therapist works as an independent contractor in a smaller spa or for a chiropractor, he or she is more likely to be able to decide upon which services to offer, the rate of the services, and the hours during which those services will be available. Another reason to clarify your status as an employee or contractor when interviewing for the massage position is because independent contractors are responsible for their own client records, and have control over those client records when and if they decide to leave their place of business. It's important to understand this early on in the massage interview, because with this independence comes the expectation of independent costs - contractors do not have taxes paid for by their employers, and often pay a large amount of money out-of-pocket at the end of the year.
Longevity as a Massage Therapist (Employee or Contractor)
It is important to understand all of the different elements that go into interviewing for a massage position, and know which questions to ask before you get hired. In addition to being prepared to give a hands-on trial massage, you should also determine during the massage interview what your potential employer expects from you in terms of compensation, hours, employee status, massage type, and career ambitions. That way you can be sure to begin a long-term, profitable, and enjoyable job as a massage therapist, either as an employee or an independent contractor.
Laurie Craig, the 2007 recipient of the prestigious Jerome Perlinski American Massage Therapy Association National Teacher of the Year award and the recipient of the American Massage Conference 2011 Educator of the Year award, is a respected health science educator and co-founder of Georgia Massage School in Suwanee, Georgia. She brings more than 25 years of varied experience to the massage school, combining her unique teaching skills, professional acumen, and passion for teaching with a comedic edge that students remember and embrace years after experiencing her classes. She also serves as a subject matter expert and test item writer for the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards and has written test items for the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. For more details, please visit www.georgiamassageschool.com.
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