5 qualities to look for in a spa employee

qualities to look for in a spa employee

It’s hard to find top talent. Here are five qualities to look for in a spa employee.

When hiring a new team member for your spa or wellness business, you, ideally, want to find someone who will work hard, focus on the guest experience, and not just pick up and leave you after a few months on the job. You want someone who can relate to guests and coworkers, who is invested in the outcome of their work, and who clearly understands the purpose of what they do.

How do you find those people? It’s not easy. But there are qualities to look for in a spa employee that will help you find someone ideal.

Here are five qualities to look for in a spa employee and the questions you can ask that will help you identify them.  


Though it’s often confused with sympathy and compassion, empathy is actually defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” Empathy is less about kindness and more about the ability to relate. And it’s one of the most important qualities to look for in a spa employee.

You want an employee to be empathetic because you want them to intuit and understand the customer’s wants and needs and respond accordingly. A spa service provider without empathy is a potential nightmare, no matter how technically skilled they are.

Sample interview question to test for empathy: “If you were in my position, what skills and qualities would you be looking for in a candidate?”

This question tests whether the candidate can put themselves in your shoes and see things from your point of view. That is empathy.


Though empathy and compassion are related, and someone who is empathetic is also likely to be kind and compassionate, they are not the same.  A spa employee must, for obvious reasons, also be kind and compassionate. Massage therapists, manicurists, and facialists are often regarded by guests as talk therapists. A compassionate ear is important. And it’s important for creating good guest interactions and experiences on all levels. 

Sample interview question to test for compassion: “Tell me about a recent act of kindness you performed?”

A compassionate person will have a list from which to draw any number of examples – but might be a little bewildered at being asked to list them. Overt bragging about kindness is, of course, counterintuitive. So, watch for it.


Conscientiousness can be defined as the desire to do what is right as guided by one’s conscience. In a spa employee, this manifests itself as someone who cares deeply about customer experience, providing the best service they can, and keeping things clean. They don’t do these things because it’s their job, they do them because it’s their nature to care. 

It takes conscientiousness to be a good problem solver. Conscientious people work well autonomously and don’t need to be reminded to do their jobs. And giving employees autonomy and allowing them to make decisions is key to good leadership and business success.

Sample interview question to test for conscientiousness: “You come into the reception area and have a treatment to give in less than five minutes. There are several customers (not yours) waiting at reception, nobody to help them, and a mess in the welcome area. What do you do?”

The solution the candidate comes up with will tell you something about how their mind works and their level of conscientiousness. Do they come up with a plan to take care of everything or does their thinking fall flat?


Creative people make brilliant employees in all kinds of ways. They may help create new spa menu items and come up with marketing and promotion and package ideas. They can be good conversationalists and good problem solvers. Along with conscientiousness, it takes creativity to be a good problem solver. You need the combination of the two. Conscientiousness without creativity, and vice versa, do not a problem solver make. Creativity and conscientiousness go hand in hand in many other ways too. These two traits combined help people find new ways to go above and beyond to enhance and elevate the guest experience. A creative spa employee can be extremely valuable.

Sample interview question to test for creativity: “Tell me about a time when you went out of your way to create a special experience for a guest, how you went about it, and why.”

Ideally, the candidate will have an example of an experience showcasing their creative thinking.

Another sample is: “Tell me about a time you had to come up with a creative solution to a problem.”


Integrity is defined as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” This is obviously an important quality in someone entrusted with any part of your business. You need to be able to trust that person to do the right thing, with customers and behind the scenes, and, ideally, never have to wonder whether they are going to take a morally questionable direction.

Sample interview question to test for integrity:  “Can you tell me about a time you experienced failure at work?”

Everyone has failed and a candidate with integrity will give a concrete example. They won’t say “I can’t think of a time I failed,” or something like, “I wanted to do better and I felt like a failure because I’m a perfectionist.” They will be forthcoming about a real failure.

Focus on these qualities to look for in a spa employee and you will find the right candidates to help your business thrive. 


Is finding and retaining talent a challenge at your spa? Get insights from industry leaders, including Nigel Franklyn, Lynne McNees, Verena Lasvigne-Fox, and Daisy Tepper when you download our report: What will it take to fix the spa industry’s staffing shortage? .


Spa Executive is published by Book4Time, the leader in guest management, revenue and mobile solutions for the most exclusive spas, hotels, and resorts around the globe. Learn more at book4time.com.

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