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, 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).
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. 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?
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 to the ways of Benefit, 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.