What kind of makeup would you wear for a job interview?

I’d opt for something fresh-faced, luminous but not oily, and neutral all-around. Very “no makeup” makeup but certainly a lot more than one would think, haha. Unless, of course, it was an interview that was driven by makeup skills, then I’d go much bolder/colorful as appropriate, but generally, I’d do a lot less on an interview and wait to see what the environment/culture was like inside.

— Christine


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Seraphine Avatar

I’d do my brows and wear mascara on my upper lashes. For eyeshadow, I’d use a neutral matte in my crease to give my eyes depth without looking too made up (think “My Eyes But Better”). I’d wear concealer and EL Double Wear Makeup set with Laura Mercier Translucent Powder, and a natural-looking blush like MAC Sweet Enough. And last, I’d wear a pinky-nude lipstick, perhaps MAC Creme in Your Coffee.

The fuchsia, red, and plum lipsticks come out after I land the job! ๐Ÿ˜€

Alana Avatar

This is how I go about it as well. I go for a very natural look for the interview and wait to see what the makeup vibe is like! Luckily I’ve had pretty chill workplaces where I can come in rocking a full wing and a bold look if I wanted to.

Ana Maria Avatar

For an interview I would choose a more natural make-up, but not a `no makeup` makeup or something more toned down than usual. Still, I would avoid bold lip colors or dark eyeshadows (even if I do sometimes wear them at work).
Especially if it’s the first set of interviews, like the ones with HR, were first impressions can be deceiving; wouldn’t want not to get to the technical interviews just because a HR thinks I’m not `technical` or `smart` enough because I wear more make-up than usual.
I’m an engineer and these environments tend to be more casual, not so many make-up lovers around, I personally do wear makeup at work everyday. It’s not only the job or project that matters, it’s the whole environment/culture, it’s also how I would fit into the team. Wearing make-up doesn’t make me less technical; if the environment/culture doesn’t allow me being myself, I don’t want the job. An interview is two sided, I also need to decide if I want to take the job based on the interaction during that time. ๐Ÿ™‚

Jess Avatar

At my job now im pretty sure I wore CP Nillionaire which is a bold, sparkly gold but I was 99% sure I already had the job before I went in (I already personally knew the manager) now if it was a job where I didn’t have an inside advantage then it would be mascara and maybe some nude gloss and that’s it.

Shannon. N Avatar

What I wore to my government job interview was:

Tinted moisturizer, warm pink cream blush, light dusting of powder, tinted brow gel, a peachy powder blush to set the cream, matte brown in the crease to define, a shimmery light shade in the lids and inner corners, a lengthening and separating mascara, and a tinted lip balm!

After I got the job, Is when I started rocking my bold burgundy, red, and ourole lips!

Carolyn Avatar

I’m an HR manager and interview people all the time. One of the things I ask hiring managers and committees to guard against is judging someone based on their appearance. In many cases there are cultural, religious, ability or other elements that influence how someone looks but have no impact on how the person would perform their work. Qualifications are what matter. The best way to enforce that principle in my experience is to remind hiring authorities that their customers/clients/whatever come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, beliefs, etc. – and the more diverse your employees, the more diverse your customer base. (I want them to hire based on qualifications because it’s the right thing to do – not to mention the most legally defensible – but sometimes people need a kick in the pants.)

Maria Avatar

I love your approach!! Especially the cultural part.
I just got a job as a business analyst in France, I went to the interview with no makeup, with my completely bare face. In France it’s kind of frowned upon to spend too much time grooming yourself, you’re kind of seen as not as intellectual (which is of course very sexist).
But for other jobs, such as hostesses, it is required to wear a lot of makeup. There is a kind of “intellectual job = not too feminine ; feminine = not an intellectual job” prejudice going on, which I hate, but that was just my testimony about French culture ๐Ÿ™‚

woodstock_schulz Avatar

Agree with the other comments, I would wear a sheer foundation with some concealer and setting powder but make sure to blend everything really well so it looks as natural as possible. Then eyebrows, taupe-ish and brown eye shadow, mascara and nude lipstick. I work in a very conservative field, so neutral, don’t rock the boat is best, lol. I think one wants to look put together, but not overly so, as you want to see what the culture of the company is, but you also want to put your best “professional” foot forward.

Deborah S. Avatar

I would start with perfecting my base, making sure that if I had any blemishes they were well concealed. I think a lot of people are turned off by blemishes and assume that the person has poor hygiene which is just crazy. I would do eye makeup but make sure that it is a more natural eye look, meaning light tones. I would not wear highlighter as some work places would not see that as appropriate for a daytime makeup. As far as lipstick goes I would wear something more than a clear gloss but nothing that screamed I am wearing lipstick. A MLBB would be appropriate. I tend to be a mouth worrier so lipstick doesn’t last anywhere near as long as it does on other people and the stress of an interview would be a prime time for me to chew my lips. I would want to make sure that any lipstick I wore would wear off as elegantly as possible. No “butt ring” lipsticks, no liquid lipstick and nothing really darker than my natural lip color. Finally, no obvious scent. A natural scent such as what would result from a shampoo or a body wash would be the only scent. You never know who might be allergic or sensitive to fragrance.

Mags Avatar

I agree that I’d go with a neutral soft eye paired with a neutral blush, but personally I think a classic red lip is a must for interviews. I think it exudes confidence in both myself and ability to take on anything.

Nancy T Avatar

I would tune it down a notch or two from my typical, brighter looks. Yet, I would still want my prospective employer to know what they’re getting! Therefore, while toned down, I would still do certain “signature” parts of my daily makeup look: black winged liner, but done in a kitten flick instead of my usual larger wings, I would still use highlighter, but nothing outlandish or glittery, and yes, eyeshadow, too, but in neutral shades. And because I’m keeping my eyes more tame, I cannot get away with a super tame lip with the crazy coloring contrasts I have going on (light eyes, medium olive skin, very dark hair) or I look like the undead, so I’d probably wear something like UD Manic or MAC Retro or Del Rio. With something like Nars Goulue or Essence Satin Love on my cheeks, to bring life to my face.

Jennifer Avatar

I love your answer! I dont get why someone would have to only wear tinted moisturizer if what you normally wear is full coverage foundation. I’m a hiring manager and I promise I’m not inspecting what type of foundation is being used lol

Rachel R. Avatar

It would depend a bit on the job, but generally I’d keep it neutral but professional. Not a “natural” look, but conservative. Nothing too shimmery or bright; no weird colors.

I’d wear good foundation, powder, my usual light contouring, matte highlighter, natural blush, matte neutrals on the eyes, mascara, MLBB lipstick (UD Sheer Rapture).

Claire Renee Avatar

I’m retired now (yay!) but will be applying on a part time job in a school office soon. So it is timely. I would go for very sparingly applied foundation, MAC Blushbaby blush, MAC Omega & Brule shadows and either thin line of L’Oreal Skinny liner in black or (if my lids aren’t too dry) Bonne Bell Espresso pencil, curl lashes and apply one coat of mascara. Lips would be Laura Mercier Sheer Lip Color in Baby Lips. Light dusting of loose powder on T zone. If my allergies have given me “shiners” then I’d use Kat VonD concealer under eyes. Not too far off what I usually wear if I wear makeup, I’ve become a “less is more” kind of gal and would rather someone notice my features instead of the color of my eye shadow.

Nicole D Avatar

I think it depends on the work field and on the position you apply for. In the legal and financial fields where I had interviews, the norm is natural/very neutral makeup. No shimmer on the eyes or lips, no apparent highlight or bronzer. My go-to products were mascara, a subtle eyeliner that enhances my natural lash line (applied on the ยพ of the lash line, no wing), an eyeshadow that is natural, a MLBB lipstick. Preferably a transfer proof lipstick. Also, I use a skin tint or the Bare Minerals Original Mineral foundation (the powder one), after applying some concealer where I have some redness. When applying for internship to a legal firm, you might have a first โ€œinterviewโ€ which is in fact a group activity where you have to state your position on something and to bring legal arguments to support it. Such activity is usually followed by a cocktail during which you and other candidates have to interact with senior lawyers, associates, and your peers. The last thing you want to do is talking to them holding a glass of wine with lipstick stains on it. I find that the legal field is more constraining than the financial one in terms of wearing makeup.

Kira Avatar

For a legal job in private practice or-in house counsel for a candidate who identifies as female, I’d do a neutral look with a heavy hand. Strong brows, pink lipstick (MAC Twig or Brave), matte foundation, brownish pink blush, and a matte eyeshadow look (like Viseart Chroma), strong liner, mascara. I’d show up early enough that any sweat or dewiness could be removed before meeting interviewers.

There was a 2011 article in the NYT called “Makeup Makes Women Appear More Competent,” based on a somewhat limited study, that found that a more “high glam” makeup look was seen as more professional, as opposed to the minimal makeup that is generally recommended. I find that rings true in my environment, in at least the top five US cities. Most interviewers appear to identify as male (and do not wear makeup), and the stereotype I perceive is that to those untrained eyes, a visibly obvious polished makeup look suggests the candidate put effort in to prepare themselves for the interview and has their shit together, more or less.

For a government legal job, I may use a lighter hand, but I think the same basic tenants apply.

Lesley Avatar

Foundation, concealer (no dark circles), neutral blush, matte neutral eye shadows, brown eyeliner tightlined, black mascara, tinted lip balm to avoid lip color messes. Nothing shimmery. Before leaving the house I would check how it all looks under fluorescent lighting. I would wear my standard dark blue nail polish, however. I need that boost of confidence.

For my last job before retiring, I was interviewed by someone who has never worn makeup in her life. But at the job before that, women were expected to wear makeup.

Genevieve Avatar

I would use eyebrow pencil, mascara, foundation, blush and setting powder, with a soft lipstick shade such as Ginger Spice (EA) or Candied Toffee Milani with a simple neutral eye -Soft and Smokey palette using the vanilla and A-Ha shades. Something like that.

Jennifer Avatar

I would wear what I normally wear but a little more neutral. Foundation and concealer would stay the same. EL DW, and Tarte shape tape. Powder like normal with clinique matte setting powder. I’d use a light pink or peach blush like maybe Nars Orgasm or Mac Style and limit my brush dips more than i normally would lol Highlight with ABH Amrezy, a little ABH bronzer in rosewood and finish with a full eye look in all matte shades using Tarte Maneater or Lorac Pro. Of course finish with mascara. No eyeliner. I never wear eyeliner unless going out at night anyway though. Lips would be a pink gloss or lipstick. Mac pink lemonade lip glass or ABH soft pink.

Amy E Henry Avatar

I highly recommend scoping out the business first. Hugely important. I once interviewed at an architectural firm and was suitably dressed, business pant suit, pretty earrings, basic hair (not too wavy or complicated), basic navy pumps.

Turns out, they required only stud earrings, no fragrance, no heels, hosiery required, dresses, not skirts. Just nuts. I don’t even know legally how they did it.

So I got there and felt like a clown in comparison. All the women had business like short hair.

Another time I interviewed at a place where the majority of employees were women dressed for the Oscars. Serious skin, hair, full on makeup, etc. Then I met the male owner. It was the prettiness that surrounded him, not an ugly woman (like me) in sight. Again, not legal but it happens.

If you have to, sit in the parking lot and watch. But always, avoid ponytails, anything “young”, dangly earrings, avoid smokey eye, etc. Unless you’ve figured out in advance the style there.

Otherwise, I do navy instead of black with a print blouse that is of an interesting color combo, basic trousers, a low heel, and minimal jewelry. I do full face makeup. MOST important: a killer bag that looks good, and a nice elegant manicure. Dewy skin (Marc Jacobs Dew Drops!), basic pink neutral lip, Make sure bag and shoes are polished.

Go in without touching your hair or face (signals nervousness), smile and be nice to everyone (even in the parking lot, you never know who is who), and watch your posture. Do not speak without taking a second first to think, no needless chatter (again, makes you sound nervous). Don’t be afraid to say you don’t have an answer if they ask.

Also, research them so you know what they do. And be prepared for “what if” questions that relate to intruders, security issues, etc. I’ve seen more of those pop up than in the past.

I was asked what I would do if a fired employee returned threatening, and I said I would follow the given protocol which I would hasten to learn, and that I’d hope someone would alert me to such employees as I might not recognize them.

ALWAYS turn off your phone!

MakeupB Avatar

Hi Emilie ?
Would you mind sharing what products you would use? Also what are your favorite foundations and shades. Thank you ?

Nikki Avatar

In a job interview I still want to look like myself-just a simpler, more professional version of me. I’d go for beige eyeshadow, burgundy mascara (it’s my neutral mascara shade-I don’t wear black mascara), a more neutral blush (probably BellaPierre Autumn Glow), and a muted pink lipstick.

Alecto Avatar

After reading the comments of others, I wanted to add that it’s critical to know the city/culture/industry you’re dealing with. I’m only saying this because there might be someone new to the job market reading and I felt there should be as broad a range of ideas as possible.

I’ve been a stage makeup artist, a soldier (yeah, I sort of interviewed for that), a retail customer service manager, a portrait artist (a client meeting is an interview, certainly), and a half-dozen other things, and I had a different look for each one.

Now I work in the construction industry. In my interview for my current position, I had to give the impression that I could move freely among designers, builder reps, vendors, construction managers, and my own field guys. A bold red lip isn’t going to impress the construction managers. A bare face won’t impress the designers. Unusual colors won’t impress the builder reps. I could wear a “scary scarecrow” burlap sack over my head and my field guys wouldn’t care as long as I put the job together right so they’re not set up to fail.

My point is, there’s no one right answer to what an “interview face” should look like, and depending on the type of work you do, it might not necessarily have to reflect how you’re going to look most of the time, either. Now that I have the job, I wear blue lipstick or scary eyes on days I’m not planning to leave the office; sometimes vivid red or berry lips and neutral elsewhere if I am (but only if I’m not walking sites, then it’s no-makeup makeup the whole way). This is made possible by the small size and open (but *not* non-traditional) culture of the company I work for; I knew what they were going in, knew they wouldn’t care about black lipstick, but also knew I needed to prove at my interview that I could well-represent us to those we interact with who *would* care.

Everyone’s situation is different — knowing your situation (or the situation you’re hoping to be in) is the most important aspect of preparing for an interview.

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