In this economy, acing that first interview has never been more important. Arm your appearance with confidence, sophistication and professionalism from head to toe. From assembling your outfit to applying the perfect amount of makeup, here’s the advice you need to put your best face forward.
Just how important is your appearance when it comes to making a first impression? Extremely – according to expert image consultant Sherry Maysonave. She explains to Forbes, "That [first impression] happens in less than 30 seconds and is based entirely upon your attire." So, when it comes to an interview, creating a polished, professional appearance is essential.
Whether your day-to-day face has you ready for the runway or a lazy day around the house, the makeup you apply for an interview should reflect class, comfort and confidence.
Even if you normally skip cosmetics, make an exception when it comes to an interview. According to the Daily Mail, 25 percent of employers say they’re more likely to hire a woman who wears makeup to an interview than one who doesn’t. In fact, writer Lucie Morris, who experimented with different looks in real-life face-to-face interviews for the Daily Mail, reported that attending an interview barefaced triggered an unexpected lack of confidence. Also, keep in mind that a bit of makeup will help you appear more awake and alert – making you seem ambitious to your potential employer.
While going bare isn’t advised, neither is going overboard with bright colors, shimmery sparkles or cakey layers. Remember, you want to portray a professional look – not a pageant appearance! In fact, when Morris showed up at an interview with an over-the-top heavy face of makeup – including bright red lipstick and false eyelashes – she felt like her look overshadowed her credentials, undermining her comfort, confidence and credibility. Professional makeup artist Landy Dean echoes this warning. He says, "Keep your look balanced and subtle. Avoid anything that might be overly distracting like glossy fuchsia lips, heavy foundation, or shimmery eyes."
So what’s the right amount of makeup? Morris felt the best when she wore makeup that was a little heavier than she’d normally wear. The added touch of shiny lip-gloss, slightly heavier eye shadow and blusher made her feel more like an executive – sending the right message to her potential employer.
Lastly, go easy on the perfume. Some people are incredibly sensitive to scents and may find even a subtle splash of aroma to be irritating or distracting. Many career experts recommend skipping perfume on the day of an interview. Instead, simply shower with your regular daily body cleanser and, above all, don’t forget to apply deodorant!
- Interview makeup made easy. Whether your daily look is au-naturel or runway-ready, these simple steps will ensure a face that’s interview appropriate.
- Apply a cream foundation to even out your skin tone. If you don’t normally wear face makeup, be sure to double-check that the formula you use matches your complexion. Dermablend Cover Crème has a shade to perfectly match any skin tone. Finally, set your look with some translucent powder.
- Under-eye circles are an unwanted sign of fatigue. Hide them with a cream concealer and you’ll appear bright and awake – even after a sleepless night. Dermablend Quick Fix Concealer SPF 30 Natural is a quick, effective fix for any imperfection on the face.
- Give yourself a natural, healthy glow by rubbing a cream blush, like Jane Iredale In Touch Cream Blush - Clarity, onto the apples of your cheeks.
- It’s optional to curl your lashes, but do apply one or two coats of mascara to help define your eyes. bareMinerals Flawless Defintion Waterproof Mascara adds a flawless layer of lash color without running the risk of a blurry meltdown late in the day.
- Lastly, splash your lips with color by using a lip stain in a subtle shade. DuWop Pure Venom Pure Berry Lip Stain is long-lasting so you won’t have to worry about re-applying.
And remember, avoid bright hues like hot pink, and skip any cosmetics that include glitter!
Not sure how to wear your hair for your interview? Here are some tips:
Picking the perfect interview attire isn’t easy! Forbes recommends doing some research into the field or industry you’re interviewing in, and then stepping up your outfit accordingly. Typically, unless your future workplace embraces artistic expression, put aside your creative side. If you aren’t sure, stay safe and embrace a conservative outfit. Here are some tips:
- Stay neutral. When choosing a suit, skip patterns and bright colors. Instead, opt for solid, neutral shades. While black looks great on some complexions, it can wash out fair complexions or appear gloomy. Experts recommend navy suits – a hue that’s flattering on most skin tones. A colored blouse or scarf paired with a solid, fitted jacket or cardigan is the perfect way to add a subtle pop of color.
- Be modest. An interview is not the time to show off your skin. Keep your cleavage covered, and skip sleeveless tops. If you wear a skirt, go for one that’s long enough so that you can sit comfortably and wear panty hose of a neutral shade. Cover up any tattoos, remove any piercings and avoid showy labels to maintain a professional, modest appearance.
- Avoid looking too trendy. No matter how much of a fashionista you are, resist the temptation to put on all of your latest fashion finds. When selecting your interview outfit, think classic styles, shapes and shades. It doesn’t hurt to add a subtle touch of personality with a trendy accessory or scarf in the season’s latest shade, but keep it subtle.
- Appear polished. Make sure that your pants and skirts are the appropriate length, fit well and are nicely pressed. A look that’s neat and well-polished sends a great message to any future employer.
- Slip on shoes you can walk in. If you’re not used to wearing heels, opt for flats. Forbes recommends closed-toed shoes.
4. Nails. Don’t overlook your nails. Anna Jiminez of Total Beauty points out that many people talk with their hands, so nails are often noticeable to potential employers. Take some time to manicure your nails prior to your interview. Although a professional manicure might be a nice way to relax and relieve stress the day before the interview, a simple kit like Tweezerman Nail Rescue Kit is all you need to clean up your nails. And no polish is necessary – but if you do sport a color, make sure that it’s a subtle, sheer shade and fix any chips.
5. Accessories. When you arrive at your interview, it’s important that you feel confident in the way you look. Adding one or two accessories to your outfit can pull together and personalize a professional appearance.
- Bag. In lieu of a purse, walk in with a professional-looking briefcase or portfolio. Not sure what to put inside? Start with fresh copies of your resume and a list of references – just in case. Add a bit of lip gloss, blotting papers, breath mints and any other emergency items you might need.
- Jewelry. Alison Doyle of About explains that no jewelry is better than cheap jewelry. Also, too much jewelry can be distracting, so skip chunky bracelets and big earrings. On beauty Web site Total Beauty, career expert Dr. Lois Frankel recommends looking in the mirror and removing the first accessory you notice before walking out the door.
When interviewing for a job, your appearance should be the last thing on your mind. Ensure a stress-free morning routine the day of your interview by practicing your look beforehand. Apply your makeup, try on your outfit and experiment with how you want to wear your hair. And, if possible, have your partner, friend or family member constructively critique your appearance. That way, you can sidestep snafus and reduce your stress on the day of the all-important interview.
Learn everything you need to know about workplace beauty and skincare for a professional lifestyle in our Office Beauty Handbook.