Getting your first massage therapy job is an exciting experience. For many newly licensed therapists, it will be the first time working at a job that they are actually passionate about. And it will be a relief to finally have a good income rolling in.
After graduating from massage school, passing the MBLEx and receiving your massage therapy license, it’s time to start applying for a job and preparing for your massage therapy interview.
How can I nail my job interview and get the massage therapy job I want? Being successful on a massage interview comes down to preparation, practice and presentation. Start by preparing yourself for questions about your massage training and skills, your strengths and weaknesses, and your career plans. Practice a few simulated interviews with a friend or colleague. Be able to present your expertise as a massage therapist, and your hands-on skills during the practical interview.
This is an exciting time, but one that is often accompanied by uncertainty and questions. In this blog post, I will share some tips on how to improve your performance on massage therapy interviews, and increase your chance of getting the massage job that you really want!
Common questions applicants have before a job interview
How should I dress for a massage interview?
When interviewing for a job, a good rule of thumb is to dress a little better than how you would normally dress when working at that job. There is no need to wear your Sunday best suit. But you should wear clothes that are clean, pressed, and fit well. Since you may be required to do a practical interview at the same time, wear clothes and shoes that would be appropriate to give a massage.
What questions will they ask during the massage interview?
Massage interview questions will vary a lot between massage settings, and from business to business. I’ve listed a lot of question further down in this blog post. You are sure to encounter at least a few of them on your next job interview.
What if I’m nervous?
The interviewer realizes that you may be a little nervous. Sometimes they are a little nervous too. The best thing you can do is to prepare well and practice. Recruit a massage classmate, friend or instructor to help you practice your interview skills. If you have not given a massage in a while, do a few trades with your massage buddies.
When should I ask about money?
The subject of compensation generally comes up later in the interview process. This is because if you’re not the right person for the job, or if this job is not right for you, then the discussion of wages is irrelevant. It should take place before the practical interview (IMHO). However, every business has their own procedure. After the interviewer has asked all of her questions, and has still not brought up the topic of salary, then it is ok for you to ask when she invites any questions from you.
*Job application tip: use a “normal”, professional sounding email address for all correspondence with potential employers. Avoid using any email addresses that may raise a a red flag and an eyebrow from your hiring manager, like jabbermouth @ gmail.com, or buttsmacker21 @… You get the idea.
What the interviewer really wants to know…
What the hiring manager really wants to know during their applicant selection process is who is the best person for their business and their customers.
This is true whether you are applying for a massage job at a spa, physical therapy or chiropractic clinic, fitness center, or other setting.
Believe it or not, but employers often have a tough time finding great employees for their business. Some of the things that they really want to know about job applicants are:
- Is this person easy to work with and get along with?
- Will I be able to train this employee quickly?
- Does he/she work well independently or will she require a lot of supervision?
- Will I have to put up with constant whining and problems from this employee?
- Would this person represent my business well as a true professional, and help us attract more clients?
- What does this person you bring to our team?
- Can he/she provide a great customer experience for our clients?
- Will this person stick with us for a long time? Or will I have to hire someone all over again in 6 months?
Turnover is expensive for companies. Hiring and training new employees costs a company a lot of money. So great companies want the best employees they can find. And they want to keep them as long as they can.
*Pro tip: Avoid companies that just want the cheapest labor they can find.
Mistakes that job seekers make during interviews
- Not being prepared. Find out as much as you can about the massage business before the interview. Check out their website and Facebook page. See what kind of services they offer and their hours. What is their brand image and what clientele do they work with most? Bring an extra copy of your resume. Also be prepared for a practical interview which may be required during the same initial interview. Turn your phone off during the interview.
- Showing up late. It is always a good idea to show up early for an interview. Showing up late, regardless of the excuse, will have the hiring manager wondering if this would be an ongoing problem if you were to start working here.
- Not dressing appropriately. Dress professionally for the position that you are applying for. Make sure you wear clothes that would enable you to give a massage, should they ask you to do the practical interview today. It is OK to ask about this when they call you to schedule the interview. Look your best. Leave the flip-flops at home. Make sure you and your clothes are clean!
- Not letting your personality shine through. It’s normal to put on a façade when interviewing, and want to put your best foot forward. But it’s also important to be yourself. I don’t mean like how you are with your friends, but your professional self.
- Being difficult. Hiring managers want someone who is flexible and easy to work with. If it is hard for them to schedule an interview with you, they will probably just move on to someone who has a more open and flexible schedule.
- Asking about pay too soon. It is bad form to start out an interview by asking “how much do you pay?”
- Not having any questions of your own. Many hiring managers want to see that the applicant is interested in their business. I’ve listed some example questions in the next section that you may want to ask. Just be sure to avoid asking questions that show you did not do your homework. Like questions that are obviously answered on their website.
- Not building rapport first. This demonstrates your interpersonal communication skills, which are a vital job skill for massage therapists. Ask the interviewer a question or two about herself, like “How long has she worked here?” And “Are you also a massage therapist?” People love talking about themself. Ask questions showing that you are interested in this company. Show gratitude for them taking the time to meet with you.
- Not being honest with themself or the interviewer. Job interviews are not only about getting a job, but finding out if it is a good fit for both you and the business. If you aren’t experienced in a certain massage modality, then don’t put it on your resume. You may be asked to demonstrate it during your practical interview.
- Applying at a job you don’t really want. Save yourself the time and effort by only applying at jobs that you really want. If you know a particular job is too far away and the commute would be exhausting after a while, then don’t apply there. Or if you don’t particularly want to work a a particular massage office, but it is really convenient, it is not the best option for you in the one term. Know what you’re looking for.
- Not paying attention to the environment during the interview. What is the mood and atmosphere at the office? Do the other employees seem happy? Is this a work environment that you would be excited to work at every day? Is there enough space to work in the treatment rooms? Does the facility look clean? Does the business look busy enough for you? Did they begin the interview on time, showing you that they appreciate you and respect your time?
*Massage interview tip: Find a way to stand out from the crowd. This is especially important if there are several applicants.
Questions you should ask the interviewer
The interview process is a two-way street. The hiring manager wants to make sure you are the best applicant for the job. But you need to make sure that this is the right massage job for you.
You will potentially be spending several years working at this massage business. So it is important that you make sure this job is a good fit for you. It should not only meet your compensation needs, but also be a place where you can continue to learn and grow as a therapist. And having a great team of co-workers is, in some ways, even more valuable than a slight difference in hourly wages.
Here are a few questions that you could ask your interviewer:
- What type of position is this? employee or independent contractor?
- What would a typical day be like for a massage therapist working here?
- Who would be my supervisor?
- What is the average turnover here?
- What kind of marketing does this company do to get new clients and retain current clients?
- What would be my other responsibilities here?
- Would I be responsible for providing any supplies?
- How many hours per day, and days per week would you need me to work?
- What days would I be working? What hours?
- How are clients assigned to the therapists? (If there are multiple therapists)
- Would I be working only at this facility, or would I be expected to cover at other facilities or work at onsite events?
33 questions you may be asked during a massage therapy interview
The questions that you will be asked during a massage therapy interview will likely differ based on what massage setting you are applying at.
For example, if you apply at a clinical setting, you will likely have more scenario-based questions, to test your clinical judgement and ensure that you can work with their clientele safely.
I’ve left off this list questions like: Where did you graduate from? When did you graduate? Where else have you worked? These are all straight forward and will have been answered on your resume or job application anyway.
- Why did you want to become a massage therapist?
- Why do you want to work here, for this particular company?
- Tell me about a challenging client you worked with previously, or in your student clinic, and how you solved their problem.
- What are your weaknesses?
- What are your strongest and weakest modalities?
- If this is your first massage job, what experiences have you had at previous jobs that you can apply to being a massage therapist?
- What type of massage treatments to you enjoy doing the most? Least?
- What kind of clients do you most enjoy working with?
- Are there any other skills or massage specialty training that you want to work toward?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Are there any groups of clients that you don’t feel comfortable or competent working with?
- What do you do if a patient tells you that the pressure is too much, but you believe that the pressure will help them?
- What are your professional goals as a massage therapist?
- Why did you leave your last job? (never badmouth a former employer)
- How do you think a client would describe a massage that they received from you?
- What are you looking for in a massage job?
- What is the toughest part about being a massage therapist?
- How confident are you when it comes to working with clients with medical conditions?
- How are you at receiving feedback and constructive criticism about your massage skills?
- What keeps you going as a massage therapist?
- How many massages can you do consecutively?
- Give an example of how you have handled conflict in the past.
- What do you do to take care of yourself and keep yourself strong and healthy?
- Have you ever experienced mental, emotional or physical burnout from being a massage therapist?
- Can you describe some of the things you do during a new client assessment?
- Do you feel like your massage school prepared you well for you career?
- Do you also have a private practice?
- Tell me about the last continuing education class that you took to further your skills.
- What is your availability to work?
- What ideas do you have about how we could improve our business and bring in more clients?
- How would you handle an inappropriate client?
- If you notice something concerning on the client’s body during the massage such as a lesion or abnormality that they may not be aware of, what would you do?
- If you were an animal, what animal would you be? (I was actually asked this one time during an interview. I’m not sure if the interviewers were actually qualified to interpret and evaluate my answer, but the point is there may be a question or two from left field. Try not to laugh too hard at them:)
*Massage interview tip: Practice a couple of mock interviews with a friend or colleague.
How to ace your practical interview
You will most likely be required to give a demonstration massage as part of the practical interview process. It may be on the same day, or they may schedule it for another day. Be ready for it during the first interview, just in case. Also, allow plenty of time on your schedule to account for this (i.e., don’t have plans right after your interview).
It is common to be a little nervous before a practical interview. Use any of your own relaxation techniques to help you feel calm and confident. (They say that if you’re nervous when giving a presentation to picture your audience in their underwear. Not sure if that would work in this situation tough.)
It’s a good sign if you made it to the practical interview! They wouldn’t waste their time assessing your practical skills if they didn’t like what they learned about you during the first part of the interview.
The hiring manager may have you do a full 1-hour massage, a 30-minute upper body massage, or some other variation of this. Whatever the requirement ends up being, you will almost certainly be required to demonstrate your skills at giving a basic Swedish or relaxation type massage, and demonstrate your skills at providing deep tissue techniques. You may be asked to demonstrate other modalities as well.
You may also be asked questions during the practical interview. For example:
- What technique are you using right now?
- What muscles are you working on now?
- What are the areas of caution around where you are massaging now? What structures are vulnerable there?
- If I had MS or osteoporosis (for example), how would you be giving this massage differently?
*Pro tip: Try not to freak out if they start asking questions like this. Just remember what you learned in school and answer the best you can. Sometimes the interviewer just wants to hear what you say, and is not necessarily looking for a specific answer.
When massaging the hiring manager, or whoever they assign to receive the demo massage, simply treat him or her as you would your best client. Ask for feedback and monitor your client’s for comfort level, just as you would for all of your clients. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate not only your technical skills, but your interpersonal skills.
Make the person feel comfortable and important like you would all of your clients. Be conservative with your draping. Show how you can make a client feel safe and secure.
When setting up for the practical interview, the hiring manager won’t just say “Ok, give me a massage”. They will tell you exactly what they are looking for. He or she may give you a scenario, like “Pretend I am a client that came in with low back pain”. You may even be required to go through a full client assessment.
Or, she may tell you the duration and type of massage she would like you to demonstrate. She may include detailed instructions on how much pressure and what problem areas she would like you to focus on.
This request would simulate a typical client coming in for a massage at their place of business. And it will most likely be based on the type of massage you would perform if hired. Be sure to follow their instructions.
Give the demonstration massage just like you would for a regular client. This includes washing your hands first, and asking them about injuries, medications or other health concerns that may require you to modify your treatment. A responsible hiring manager wants to see that you know how to screen a client properly and provide safe treatments for their customers.
*After the interview, drop a thank you card in the mail. Have this already in your car with the envelop stamped and addressed. Write a quick note in the card reflecting something memorable from the interview and expressing gratitude for their time. Drop this in the mail on your way home. Don’t wait! Hiring managers with positions to fill tend to make decisions quickly. So you want her to receive the letter before making a decision. This will make a favorable impression that can help your chances at getting the job. I’d bet that less than 1 out of 10 job applicants take the time and effort to do this.
Where should I work as a massage therapist? Start by knowing what you really want. Come up with your sort-term goals and long-term goals. Look for an office that will provide the best working environment and experience for you. Getting paid well is important. But liking the people you work with can make it a job you love or one that you dread. If you are a new massage therapist, look for an establishment that has helpful supervising therapists and offers training to further your skills. If you are offered a position at more than one company, it may help to make a pros and cons list to help you decide which place would help you meet your short-term and long term career goals and personal goals.
Life is short. Go where you’re treated best.