“What it takes to be…” A Great Assistant

September 30, 2022

An assistant’s role is vital to the smooth running of a salon, but an assistant with the wrong attitude can have a negative effect on the whole team and business. Salon owner, Robert Kirby offers his view on what it takes to be a great assistant.

 The Right Attitude

It’s said a lot, but it’s true — you can teach skills, but you can’t teach attitude. When I employ an assistant, I look for someone who is genuinely keen to learn and prepared to work hard. I can usually tell during the interview stage if someone is just looking for a job in a salon because they think it will be easy, or because they don’t know what else to do. For me, a great assistant will have ambitions to be a successful hairdresser, but be prepared to put the work in. Obviously, some experience can be a good thing, but I am more interested in a good work ethic and enthusiasm. 

Great People Skills

Again, you can teach personal skills, but I still look for someone that obviously enjoys communicating with people. I want my assistants to talk to the clients in a way that is both friendly and respectful. They need to learn quickly how to communicate with people that are not necessarily part of their usual social group. We can help educate them as to the right language to use, but a natural aptitude for people skills is a big asset in this industry.

The Ability to Listen

Great assistants will learn the importance of listening as well as asking lots of questions. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to prove yourself by doing lots of talking when someone is trying to teach you something — you want to show that you have a certain level of knowledge. But a great assistant will learn to ask questions and then listen carefully and take in the response from their mentor or educator.   

Taking pride in What You Do

A great assistant will take pride in every aspect of their job, however small it seems. From helping to keep the salon looking tidy to caring for clients at the backwash, every task an assistant performs is essential and a great assistant will recognise this and put their all into everything they do. Of course, a manager needs to instil into an assistant just how vital they are to a business. When an assistant feels motivated and appreciated, the pride should follow.


A great assistant will always have one eye on their future career and want to progress, but they do need to be patient. Becoming a successful stylist does not happen overnight. It can take a couple of years to progress from assistant to junior stylist, depending on the assistant’s aptitude. So, a degree of patience, as well as determination, is essential. Put the work in, commit to learning, remain motivated and it will happen!

Did you enjoy this article? Click here