What to Expect from a Benefit Cosmetics Interview

What to Expect from a Benefit Cosmetics Interview
Just to make sure you’re aware before reading, I’m not sure if this is how it works at every single Benefit Cosmetics interview (see Glassdoor for information like that), but this is what happened when I applied to work for them. So, it’s What to Expect from a Benefit Cosmetics Interview. SPOILER ALERT, I didn’t get the job in the end, but you will soon find out that I’m perfectly happy with that. I am not wanting to slate the company, they are very popular and seem to have great staff, it just definitely wasn’t for me and I’m not a huge fan of the products anyway. So, this is a little guide to the interview process/heads up for anyone thinking of applying, or that already have.
Step 1: The online application
It’s a pretty simple form where you answer some questions, attach a CV and covering letter, standard job applying really. However, there is a question asking if you have a Beauty NVQ, this has actually stopped me from applying in the past. But as I was told several times they’re ‘beauty magicians’ not ‘makeup artists’, so it doesn’t matter if you can apply makeup properly at all. Which I guess is a bonus for some people, but if you don’t have a clue at all, then your face ends up like mine (you’ll see this tragic disaster in due course).
Step 2: The phone interview
If they’re happy with your online form, then you’ll get a phone call with no warning at all. Apparently this is very difficult to pass, I was just about to get into the shower when they rang and had a very bad attitude with them because I thought it was a call centre, great start right there. They asked the usual questions about my knowledge on the history of Benefit, products I use, what I think to the counter girls, why I want to work for them etc. The phone interview lasted around 15 minutes and they told me at the end if I was successful or not. I was then given a store and time, told to wear black and flat shoes, as well as this I was told to bring ID and National Insurance (it wasn’t actually needed on the day but if you get an interview, take them just in case).
Step 3: Trial shift/Interview 
It was a group interview that took place in Debenhams (Department Store), I thought it’d look better if I got there sooner rather than later, assuming I would be told to familiarise myself with the products. Instead I was told to just come back later, so I awkwardly looked at all the other makeup counters for half an hour. We were asked to wear all black, which you can read about here. I was told it would be 4 hours long, but I came out just a little earlier. We all met up at the counter and waited for everyone to arrive, then we were taken to a little office 2 floors down where 7 of us were all crammed inside of this tiny office space.
Here we were shown how to approach customers, you’ve probably heard of traffic stopping before and thought the obvious stopping people as they walk past, right? WRONG. You couldn’t be more wrong. But I will get to that in a short while. We were also shown what products we would be using, and told not to talk about any other products at Benefit at all. We found out about Potent eye cream which has an ‘ancient Chinese remedy’, looking on the Internet the ingredients look poisonous to me, but as an ex-Lushie they would.
Next up we learnt about Porefessional, I can’t slate this product as I have used and loved it. After it was the Rebel tinted moisturiser, which is meant to adapt to the colour of your skin, so it only comes in 2 shades. The light shade is basically yellow. Benetint cheek and lip tint came next which I actually really liked. Finally high/moon beam, again I loved them but they’re a tad pricey.
In my pair I got the chance to put the makeup on my partner first, all the makeup is meant to be fine to use on the top of bare skin or a full face of makeup. For anyone with a brain cell you know this is going to end badly. She was very natural looking as it was so I didn’t go overboard and in my opinion she looked lovely. Then it was her turn……personally I’m calling it sabotage but the less paranoid half of me just thinks it was because I had so much makeup on to start with. Which obviously going to a makeup counter interview, I would put a lot on. After this girl had finished attacking my face, it was patchy, uneven, and the bitch took half of my eyebrow off! ARE YOU READY FOR THE PHOTO?
What to Expect from a Benefit Cosmetics Interview
No filter necessary. I went to the window so my skin looked more even and it still looked like this. Absolutely ridiculous. Trying to convince people that the makeup is brilliant and they look at your face like ‘oh, it is?’, obviously no one was rude enough to say that to me but I could see it in their eyes. After putting the makeup on each other we were ready to hit the shop floor, 6 girls, all wanting the job, prowling for prey on a quiet Wednesday day. FUN.
So what’s traffic stopping then? Traffic stopping to Benefit means that you walk all around the ENTIRE store and interrupt people whilst they’re shopping for bikinis or handbags. You’re actually meant to lightly touch their shoulder, whilst saying ‘excuse me, I absolutely love your *insert any old compliment that you don’t mean here*’. Yes, we were told to compliment customers, which feels so fake and forced as practically a second after you’re meant to ask them if they’ve ever heard of Benefit cosmetics before.
If they say ‘no’, you’re then meant to act shocked and get them to come over. If they say ‘yes’, you’re meant to INSTRUCT, not ask or request, you’re meant to actually tell them to follow you. Then if they don’t want to, you actually have to lie to the customer and tell them you haven’t got much time either, or that you finish soon, this way they’ll come along. I managed to get around 6 customers back in 2 hours, however, I felt like it was taking me longer as I wanted to have a genuine conversation with the people, and genuinely compliment them, so that’s what I did.
 I always pride myself on being genuine and I have never lied to customers or gave them false compliments, and that’s why I took my time. I wasn’t just going to walk up to someone and be like ‘Oh, hey there, I love your monobrow! Have you heard of Benefit Cosmetics before?’ So I spent more time finding things I could actually talk to customers about, for example one woman was looking at Leopard Print, so I had a conversation with her about it before even mentioning Benefit, this way I was doing the job, but not being as pushy. The woman ended up giving me so many compliments about how good I was at ‘my job’ she said she was going to email in about me, and that point I told her it was my trial shift which seemed to make her more determined to write in, bless the lovely woman. I do hope she forgot though.
I felt as if I was stalking my prey. All the other girls on the counters seem to know what we were doing and just pitifully watched. Apparently getting 6 back seemed the highest between us and we all seemed to get at least one person to buy something. My mum keeps ranting on about slave labour, but I guess having 6 extra unpaid staff that were going BEYOND the normal means to get customers would highly benefit them. ‘Benefit’ them, see what I did there?
Step 4: The sit down interview
The end of my journey. I was told on the shop floor that I didn’t need to go and get anymore customers now because I had passed that stage and I had another interview in 10 minutes time down in the Cafe, obviously everyone had different times. Throughout the day we had been scored so they could see if we had enough ‘points’ to get to the next level. The sit down interview included really generic questions which didn’t feel very challenging or interesting at all.
Like when was a time you dealt with a stressful situation? Do I prefer teamwork or alone? How do I feel about targets?
Which all the questions I’ve actually answered on a TGI Fridays application before. I answered very quickly though as I’ve had a years retail experience at that point and a lot of examples of everything they asked. They seemed happy enough until I told them I would have to work a month’s notice. But I feel I answered well.
The next step would have been to go in and meet the team members in the different stores to make sure I suited them as well. I thought this was an unnecessary step, simply because it’s not a very team based job, you don’t go out as a group and grab people and you don’t put the makeup on together. In fact at that pace you wouldn’t have much time with coworkers, especially not if they wanted you to traffic stop constantly. Instead I got a phone call the next morning informing me I was unsuccessful because it was very ‘competitive’ this year. Some of the other girls were fantastic, and wanted the job so they could move onto other counters like MAC, so I am very happy for them.
To conclude, as confident as I am, I couldn’t do this all day every day. I felt so rude it was unbearable, after looking around on the Internet a couple people have actually walked out at that point and I don’t blame them at all. I considered it. The hourly rate was £6.24, less than I’m on plus 2% commission on anything I would have sold. You also get £200 (if full time) every 6 months to spend on makeup, but you have to wait 3 months first, and £100 if you’re part time. They seem like good enough bonuses but the general experience I really didn’t like. I really do think they should have checked to see if people were even capable of applying makeup as well, as if I was a customer and somebody who worked at Benefit put makeup on me like that girl did, I would have probably punched her and then never returned to the counter again.
I hope this gave you all a better insight into what to expect from a Benefit Cosmetics interview. Obviously some people would have thrived at this and loved going up to people and I’m sure the people at Benefit love their job, but for me, I’m happy to have stayed at Lush for 2 years, and if anyone calls Lush staff ‘PUSHY’, I will just laugh because compared to traffic stoppers, Lush staff are nowhere close.
  • Oh wow! What an experience for you. Tbh I have had mixed experience with benefit staff, I once went for a benefit and glamour event and the girl that did my make up, didn't match it to my colouring. She applied a dark eyeshadow, didn't blend it properly and it didn't even match my yellow undertones. The bright pink lipgloss she applied with it made me look even worse, I used wipes to take off my make up. This is just one of the times that staff didn't know how to apply make up, xoxo.

    • They're not actually trained in putting makeup on though, they said they're 'makeup magicians' not 'makeup artists', so I'm really not surprised! xx

  • Kay

    Oh wow, what an interesting post to read. That was one hard interview for a wage only just above the minimum wage. I rarely buy from Benefit but I will take more notice of them next time I go into a department store and see what the 'talk' is like!

    • The fake compliment is the main thing that really upset me! xx

  • Such an interesting post, I had no idea what it was like to interview for a beauty counter like that – love a bit of inside knowledge 🙂

    Jo x

  • Damn, the traffic stopping seems terrifying o.o Also…I don't think the makeup on you is TOO bad personally. =x Overall this post was really interesting to read. Don't know/think I could work for them if this is something they do regularly. Also, Lush really ARENT pushy :S

  • This was a really, really interesting post. I've always wondered about working for Benefit but I've heard some strange things about their selection processes!

    Sophierosehearts x

  • Honest and interesting post, I don't agree with the traffic stopping, seems a bit intrusive to go and find someone within a store and distract them, fair enough if you was at the counter and they were walking past and you started to talk to them.

    Umm…if the woman who did your make-up got the job, we're going to see a lot more girls walking around like patchy rag dolls.

    LaaLaa xo

    Dolce Vanity

  • Wow what an interesting post, I always wondered what kind of thing you had to do to get a job at a beauty counter. Seems Benefit were obviously more interested in people who could make a sale rather than actually apply makeup, what a shame!



  • I had an interview once! I got the job, but didn’t take it for the same reasons you state, doing all that, all day everyday just wouldn’t make me happy. I worked in body shop in the end and they were much more for the customer and you could do make overs and spend time with people ( this was a few years ago now so may have changed) But I will never forget my benefit interview. Basically, nope I am certainly not a “make up magician” I am a “make up artist”….so yeah, didn’t work for me. Great people though x

  • Your lenses suits you 🙂
    ~Pauline @ http://www.kallony.com.ph/brand/benefit

  • I went through this too, but I didn’t make it to the final interview stage. I got told to leave half way through the traffic stopping. I was in a John Lewis store on a weekday morning, where the shop was barely full and the people that were there were old women. Nobody was interested in coming, and no matter how hard I practically begged these women to come, they wouldn’t. So because I brought nobody back to the counter, I got told no.

    I understand that Benefit is trying to be a brand suitable for all women of all ages, but the interview process is just ridiculous and unfair. It’s such a shame because I’d have loved to have worked for Benefit when I applied, but if I was back at uni again, I wouldn’t want to attempt applying again. It’s too much of an embarrassing process – I hated the role play we had to do when we were pretend traffic stopping!


  • Joanne

    Very interesting post! I just started a new job at a beauty counter in Debenhams (not Benefit though) and I was told about traffic stopping in my interview and had an hour trial where I went out and did some traffic stopping and found it very odd to approach someone who is no where near your counter and probably has no interest in buying a £40 moisturiser. However I took the job as I really wanted to gain a different set of skills as I had previously worked in hospitality so wanted the visual merchandising, sales experience to add to my cv. Having worked a few shifts now it becomes apparent traffic stopping isn’t very common. I didn’t encounter anyone bar a perfume sample lady move away from her counter and approach customers. I understand young brands and new products sometimes need that extra push to help sales but I can’t stand a pushy sales person and think the tactic of being friendly and open are more desirable than someone who only cares about making the sale. Great post btw 🙂

  • I’m not surprised this is such a popular post. It’s refreshing to see some honesty :). I’ve worked in retail before and like you, I just don’t feel comfortable giving somebody a fake compliment or ‘pushing’ them to buy the products I’m selling. I can’t help but roll my eyes at any manager that thinks pushy or false tactics are the way to go! Also, as a customer I hate it even more. Even if I had intentions to buy something for a store, if the sales assistant is too pushy, I walk out of there without a second-look back (or any purchases!). Don’t get me wrong, retail can be great…but I’m not a fan of cold-sales tactics like Traffic Pushing!
    I hope you find a job that you love, and at least this interview was a learning experience :)!
    Tasmin | Grandiose Days

    • I feel exactly the same!
      Even tho in Italy everything works differently, be it at a counter or in an actual shop, they barely greet you, nevermind knowing their stuff.

      Barbs, 300daysofEngland

  • This was such a good post! Thank you 🙂 I’m thinking of applying to something like this in the future. Also, I now understand why I was once taken from looking at shoes in debenhams to going and getting my makeup done!! I felt bad because I did end up buying some products, but at a different counter later on in the day…oops! Love your blog and I think it’s great that you posted this! Xxx

  • I’ve applied for Benefit a couple of times, but hadn’t been contacted back either times which is rather disappointing. Assumed it was due to not having the Beauty NVQ but who knows?!

    Colourful Stuff | Beauty and the rest. ♥

  • Christ on a bike that’s some thorough interview/trial!! You’d swear you’re applying for some top level super secret government spy job… or applying for a health/childcare job!! It’s selling make-up, not brain surgery.
    They shouldn’t make it so arduous and drawn out. Plus as someone with many, many years of retail experience I hate that fake compliments stuff…it’s so cringe.
    I think you dodged a bullet there 😉

    Carol @ http://www.JollyCaucusRace.blogspot.com

  • Claudia

    I went for an open interview day at Benefit and after being all giddy about owning loads of makeup, telling them the history I knew and telling them I had 4 years of beauty experience as I worked on the makeup counters in Boots, they said I didn’t have enough experience and to go work as a secret shopper….how is being a secret shopper in Aldi going to help me? Utter rubbish. I got an Urban Decay interview once and we too had to walk around the store for ages pestering all the elderly ladies asking is they wanted to try the new black eyeliner….errr what? I walked out of the interview, told them I wanted to be a makeup artist and not pester the customers. haha. I never have and never will apply for a department store beauty job again. xxxx

  • So refreshing to read something to honest! My friend works for Benefit and on her trial day they told her to approach people with the TOWIE attitude and saying things like “OMG babe I love your bag, it would go perfectly with this lipstick!” she was mortified!
    Don’t tell me the girl who did your makeup got the job! Could you imagine going into Benefit wanting a professional makeover and coming out with that on your face!
    I’d say not getting that job was the best thing for you!

    Katy x x x

  • Alyssia Slade

    I interviewed and worked for Benefit earlier this year and I lasted all of three months there. I was in a department store where the average age of the customers was 50 years old… Basically none of them wanted to be pestered with Benefit, and I didn’t want to pester them either.