Practical Plotting

My business has been doing a lot of interviewing lately, so I’ve been doing a lot of practical massages. Or having them done to me, as the case may be. Which is not, perhaps, as delightful as it sounds. In a practical massage, I can’t just zone out: I have to listen, feel, weigh, measure, and think about how this person and her massage might add to our team.

In addition, since I’m most interested in adding another “true” deep tissue person to the team, I’ve been asking specifically for deep tissue massage, and not always getting it. Now, telling someone she’s not what you’re looking for in a delicate and sensitive way is sometimes a challenge, particularly since I have a lot of empathy for often anxious, interviewing therapists. And even if I asked for deep tissue and still got a massage that felt like I was being skated on by dragonflies, I’m still sensitive to the therapist’s feelings. Up to a point . . .

The point in one massage came for me when in “letting her down easy,” a therapist got very upset, stating that she thought she already had the job. This honestly concerned me, and I asked her what we had said to lead her to believe this, so that we would have no such misunderstandings in the future. She said it was because we had said in the first part of the interview that we needed someone immediately. I replied that we did indeed need “someone” immediately, but we had to do practicals before we could determine which “someone” was right for us. She then made a veiled suggestion that some massage businesses (perhaps even us?) used practicals as a way of “getting free massages.” As you might guess, that was when my empathy well ran dry. I remained polite, but stated that we were much too busy trying to run and staff a business to plot ways to get free massage.

In my opinion, all but accusing a potential employer of trying to get a “free massage” is not a good way to endear yourself to said employer. But I can’t stop wondering: Does that really happen? Are there some businesses out there using practicals as a means of getting free massage. Surely not . . . right? If anyone has an opinion on this, feel free to weigh in.

6 thoughts on “Practical Plotting

  1. Elaine

    Not sure if there are companies using interview time for “free” massage. But the best way to avoid the whole matter on both ends is to have no more then a 20-30 minute practical. Everyone is busy and I really feel like that amount of time is plenty enough to get a feel of what someones touch is like. Longer then that and I do think it is taking a bit of advantage.

  2. Anonymous

    hello there,
    All massage therapists in the bay area know about MILL VALLEY MASSAGE in Marin County the owner likes to get “free massages” as he always post hiring ads on Craigslist and get therapists to give him massages and he always pretends he is hiring staff but never get any of them on board…since the ad remains on Craigslist forever…This one is abusing it, big time!! So therapists, don’t waste your time with them…that is a warning!

  3. Anonymous

    I have run into this where people advertise and will want a full body or a 30 min massage. When asked to do this I walk out the door. My feeling is that my credentials speak for themself, my time is valuable if they want a 30 min or a full body then they should compensate me for my time as to the hiring pay per session. The last person I have worked for just spoke to me and hired me on the spot and I was with the DC for several yrs. Another person just wanted me to give a 5-10 min on an arm, leg or back my choice. This is fair and enough time to know a persons touch. It’s disgusting and insulting for people to try and take advantage of our profession for free massages or low balling on the pay scale of $15 or there abouts per hour. Yes, it happens more than you would think. Ok, I’m getting off the soap box.

  4. Lynna Dunn

    As someone who requests practicals for the purpose of actually hiring, there’s no way I’d want a 20-30 minute massage. For one thing, I can’t get an idea of what they’d do for a “standard” full-body in that amount of time. For another, many therapists are nervous, and it takes them 10-15 minutes to settle in; therefore if I judged them on 20 minutes, I could be missing a good hire.
    As to credentials, I’ve seen plenty of therapists with “good” credentials do poor or mediocre work or even work that just doesn’t fit with what I asked for and what I need to round out my team. So in my mind, a 50-60 practical is needed before hiring. As to paying someone for that time, well perhaps. However, I’ve been the one on the “doing” end, and never took it personally. It’s only 50-60 minutes, and if I have a good feeling about the place, I have no problem not being paid for doing a simple job test.

  5. Sue Peterson

    Lynna: You got me on this one….I’ve had to do practicals for job interviews in the past and I’ve always been happy to do them…but when I became an employer I went to a 20-minute back massage, mostly because schools were cranking out clueless people who had no idea they sucked so bad. I felt bad cutting them short, so I fixed it by gritting my teeth for 20 mins. Trust me, you can tell when someone is clueless pretty quick. My fave is the lady who thought deep tissue meant grinding my back’s soft tissue into the short rib tips. Egads!

  6. Anna Diaz

    If you’re applying for a clerical position, its common to have a typing test administered. So, why would you not expect a practical to demonstrate your massage skills.

    Massage is not just about the stroke, it is about your skill to communicate to a client, being perceptive of their comfort, and of course, proper stroke and draping.

    Whether the owner is getting a “free” massage is inconsequential. It is the therapist responsibilty to prove their abilities to a potential employer–especially if they claim to be competent in anything other than Swedish.


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