Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Makeup for a Job Interview

Dear Belle,

Can you please do a post on makeup and hair for job seekers?  I’m currently hiring for a new Staff Assistant and today, an applicant walked in wearing bright yellow nails.  Add that to the two girls with winged eyeliner and a third who showed up to her 10:00AM interview looking like she woke up at 9:59, and I’m at a loss for words.  


It’s funny that you mention makeup for job interviews, because I just wrote a post about this last week…for Birchbox.

On my blog, I often dispense career and professional advice to young women who are just starting out. Many of the questions that I receive deal with what to wear to a job interview. While choosing the right outfit is important, many women forget that the makeup, hair style, and fragrance they wear says just as much about them as their clothes do.  

Hair:  When going on a job interview, your hair should be freshly washed. Too often, candidates minimize their beauty routine in an effort to be punctual.  So the person will stroll into an early morning interview with greasy roots and drooping locks.

This tells the interviewer that this individual is not used to being up at this early hour and that it’s very likely that she will either be habitually late for work or show up looking less than professional. Being prompt is important, but you need to plan appropriately so that you have enough time to properly get ready and avoid making a bad first impression.

Read the rest of the post, here…


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  1. Julie says:

    KH- I used to work for a career service and did mock interviews. In general, wearing hair clean and loose is alright but the rule is similar to the bangs. If you find yourself fiddling with your loose hair, find a way to at least pull back the front strands. The key thing for most interviews is that your appearance doesn't stand out more than your resume so keep the hairstyle simple and you'll be fine.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. Robyn says:

    I agree with all of this, except for the nail polish. I always dress completely professionally for job interviews, and my job in general, but maintaining autonomy over my nail polish brings me a day to day joy that is not always otherwise achieved in the office environment.

    October 20, 2011/Reply
  3. Belle says:

    I'm not saying you can't wear it to the office, just the job interview. My Boss certainly didn't know that I was the reigning queen of sequins when he hired me.

    October 20, 2011/Reply
  4. b says:

    totally agree with belle on the nailpolish- you wouldnt catch me dead in bright colors or unmanicured nails during an interview. Schedule your manicure to celebrate when you've received the job.

    October 20, 2011/Reply
  5. Lindsey says:

    I agree with Belle – I love, love, love to have my nails painted and my polish collection is somewhere in the 100 bottles range. It's excessive, I know. I've got tons of colors and love being able to express myself, if you will, through my nails when the rest of my clothing needs to be a bit more conservative. If I'm interviewing though I'm going to stick to classic colors or neutrals. Once I've got the job, i'll feel out what is considered appropriate before breaking out the mint greens and purples.

    October 20, 2011/Reply
  6. Katie says:

    You definitely want to look like a more “natural” version of yourself for the interview and then morph into an office-appropriate version of yourself after you've got the job, which could include winged eyeliner or yellow nails if your office is okay with that. Zero excuse for greasy hair, though. Period.

    October 20, 2011/Reply
  7. ~M says:

    I like that you mention no fragrance. That's something I haven't followed in the past, but will in the future. Fragrance is very powerful. I was walking down the hall just the other day and smelled Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue. It's a great scent, but it takes me to a very sad point in my life. If one of the candidates I recently interviewed had been wearing it it would have been hard not to make a negative connection.

    October 20, 2011/Reply
  8. Robyn says:

    Fair points all. It's true, I didn't break out the glitter on day 1.

    October 20, 2011/Reply
  9. Kaylee says:

    I have nothing new to add, but I have to say, I agree on the nail polish. I think bright colors are appropriate for most offices, but this is something you can judge after you get the job; an interview is not the place for brightly colored nails.

    That being said, if I preferred one candidate over all of the others and yellow nails were her only negative, I would still hire her. If she was equal to one or more other candidates, though, it might be enough to knock her out of the running.

    October 20, 2011/Reply
  10. Lindsey says:

    I'd agree with Kaylee…I'd probably see it as a negative from the standpoint of hiring someone – and then ask her if I could borrow it once she started!

    October 20, 2011/Reply
  11. KH says:

    Belle I have a question about wearing your hair down for an interview. I usually just blow dry mine and leave it straight – usually I ensure the trim is somewhat neat, but other than that I leave it alone. Is leaving one's hair down for an interview unprofessional? I don't ever straighten it or curl it (don't really know how – super low maintenance).

    October 20, 2011/Reply
  12. norwegianette says:

    ~M: SO TRUE about how fragrance can be linked to a memory of a person for better or for worse. Dior Homme Sport brings up fond memories, but a two timing jerk I once knew wore Acqua di Gio, and every time I smell it I get irrationally angry. Of course 8 out of 10 Italian men under 35 wear this fragrance, so that makes living in Italy kinda weird – with 20xday sudden rushes of anger it's kinda like having constant PMS or something.

    October 23, 2011/Reply