I hosted a table about interviewing skills earlier this week at a women's speed networking event here in Cleveland and was honored to share my insights and interviewing best practices with the women who attended. To prepare, I created a one-page handout with some of my recommended interviewing best practices and for the sake of brevity, kept most of my bullet points to one line. So, I thought I'd expand a little in this post when it comes to putting your best face forward for an interview, especially if you're just starting out in the job market.
One main piece of advice I think is crucial is to dress the part. Companies, regardless of how casual they might be on an everyday basis, likely still expect you to wear a professional suit in black or charcoal - a jacket, slacks (goodness, I really hate that word) or a skirt, and a flat or a low-heeled shoe. I say likely because more and more companies are starting to favor business casual dress code; however, I still think it's important to err on the side of caution and wear a suit to your first interview. I wouldn't rule someone out if they showed up in a dress or sweater set, but it might give some hiring managers pause. If you're called back for a second interview, then you can gauge whether or not to wear something a bit more casual.
Dressing the part also includes the type of makeup you wear. Now, a few things before I go any further. First, I'm talking about interviewing for a "professional job" in more of a corporate office or government setting, perhaps even retail or food service. If you're interviewing for a job as a makeup artist or a similar position in a creative field, odds are you can get away with a lot more flair and you probably should. However, in the case of an everyday, old-fashioned job interview, less is still more.
Also, by no means do I believe you have to wear makeup to your interview. A job offer should always be based on your knowledge, skills, abilities and not what you look like, with or without makeup. Is that a naive statement? Probably, considering we live in a shallow society where a person is judged by their appearance in a matter of seconds and women face even more intense levels of scrutiny. However, I'm a firm believer in being your most authentic self and if makeup isn't your jam, it's totally okay. The last thing you want is to be distracted during an interview because you're wearing makeup and hate it. And truly, your confidence in who you are and what you bring to the table is more powerful than anything you might put on your face.
Moving onward... if you are going to wear makeup to your interview, I recommend a simple, everyday look that's quick and easy and will get you out the door in a reasonable amount of time. You do not want to be late to an interview because of your makeup routine. Stick to the basics - eyeshadow, mascara, blush, and lipstick. Leave your contouring, strobing, smokey eyes, cut creases, overdrawn lips, and the like for another time and place.
I've recommended some products below that can help you create a fresh face for your interview. These are some of the high end and drugstore favorites I use everyday. I've also indicated which products I think you can skip altogether. And of course, you'll want to make sure to use products that work for your skin type, tone, and texture.
Primer - Especially important for a long day of interviews.
Rimmel London Fix & Perfect Pro Primer ($7.99 1 oz)
Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer ($52.00 1 oz)
Foundation - Light-medium coverage; BB Cream or tinted moisturizer work well, too.
Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation ($7.99 1 oz)
MAC Pro Longwear Foundation ($33.00 1 oz)
Maybelline Fit Me Concealer ($7.99 .23 oz)
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer ($29.00 .22 oz)
e.l.f. Studio High Definition Powder ($5.99 .28 oz)
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder ($38.00 1 oz)
Maybelline Brow Precise Shaping Pencil ($7.99)
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz ($21.00)
Eyeshadow Primer (optional)
NYX Cosmetics High Definition Eyeshadow Base ($6.99 .27 oz)
Smashbox 24 Hour Photo Finish Shadow ($20.00 .41 oz)
Eyeshadow - Matte, neutral shades are best; avoid shimmer, pigments, or glitters.
L'Oreal Color Riche La Palette Nude ($19.99)
tarte Tartelette Amazonian Clay Matte Eyeshadow Palette ($45.00)
Eyeliner (optional) - Again, neutral shade are best.
Revlon PhotoReady Kajal Eye Pencil ($9.99)
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil ($20.00)
Mascara - Black or brownish-black
Maybelline Full & Soft Thick & Healthy Washable Mascara ($7.99)
Benefit Roller Lash Curling & Lifting Mascara ($24.00)
Blush - Something with a peach, coral, or bright pink undertone.
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Blush Flushed ($7.99)
Clinique Cheek Pop Berry Pop ($22.00)
Lipgloss or lipstick - Subtlety is thy name...
Revlon Ultra HD Lip Laquer Smokey Topaz ($8.99)
Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick Naked ($22.00)
Now, you might be reading this and freaking out a little because it's more makeup than you've ever worn in your life. I'm not saying you have to wear everything on this list; it's perfectly okay to pick and choose the steps and products that work best for you. And you beauty junkies out there may be clutching your pearls at just how few products I've listed. What about bronzer, contour powder or cream, and highlighter? False eyelashes? Lipliner? Face setting spray? Again, you're more than welcome to wear what you want to an interview, but I can almost certainly guarantee you too many extra layers of makeup won't score you any favors with your potential employer. It may actually work against you.
Is that fair? Maybe not, but it's reality. Get the job first and then think about how you can incorporate extras into your everyday look. Do I wear bronzer, highlighter, winged liner, and crazy bright lips to work? Of course, but I work in an office that's decidedly laid back and even then, I still don't go too crazy. Also, the morning of your interview is not the time to introduce a new trend into your routine, like clown contouring (yes, that's a thing), baking your makeup, or using red lipstick to camouflage the dark circles under your eyes. Remember, less is more.
I love makeup as it plays an essential role in how I make myself feel beautiful, confident, and ready to face whatever the world is going to throw at me on any particular day. This has been especially true when getting ready for an interview. I'm always surprised at how a little mascara or lipstick can boost my self confidence and believe it's been a deciding factor in many of the jobs I've gotten (the self confidence, not necessarily the lipstick, but hopefully you can see the connection). Always remember, though, you ultimately have to be true to yourself.
One last point... if you're completely new to makeup, you may feel slightly overwhelmed about where to start. YouTube makeup tutorials are an excellent place to start, then practice, practice, practice. Or perhaps you'd prefer the assistance of a personal beauty advisor who can give you some direction along the way. If so, contact me for more information about how we can make that happen.
Yours in beauty,
Lady Bon Vivant