How To Dress For A Professional Interview: Attire, Makeup, Hair and Nails

By Janey Dike on June 26, 2014

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Looking professional can mean different things to different people. But when it comes to interviews, the same basic rules can be applied to make sure that your appearance helps rather than harms you.

Interviews are a chance to make a first impression. Every interview has the chance to be an important first step for future opportunities. It’s important to make sure that what you look like doesn’t deter a possible employer from hiring you. And if you do end up landing the coveted job or internship, fashion tips that you use for your interview can also be applied in a professional work setting.

Here’s how to pull off a polished, accomplished and confident look to nail any interview that comes your way:

Attire: Depending on what the interview is for, you may be able to dress more casually for some jobs than others. This is especially true for college-aged students whose job won’t require wearing a suit to work everyday.

On the other hand, if you are unsure as to what level of professionalism to dress for, it is better to look more polished and less casual. Your outfit can be stylish and flattering, but it should also be simple and not divert attention away from your face, words and resume.

Pencil skirts, dress pants, blazers, dresses with appropriate coverage, plain button-up shirts, cardigans, nice blouses and simple and untarnished pumps, boots or flats are all acceptable articles of clothing to wear for interviews. Basic jewelry is appropriate, especially in gold, silver or black.

image via blog.carneysandoe.com

Makeup: There isn’t one particular way to do your makeup and be appropriate for an interview. There are, however, a lot of ways NOT to do your makeup. Overall, your cosmetics shouldn’t be distracting. The thing that the interviewer most remembers about you shouldn’t be your dramatic eye shadow or layered-on bronzer.

Simple, more natural-looking makeup for your complexion is the best look to strive for. If you still want to add a bit more color or highlight a feature, try to focus on just one area, such as lips, cheekbones, or eyes, to avoid looking clownish or like you are dressed up to go out.

image via corallista.com

Hair: While you don’t want to look like a completely different person than you actually are when heading into an interview, you do want to show up looking clean and professional. That means if your hair is usually wild and free, it may need a bit of taming and styling to keep everything in place.

The best way to get a sleek, stylish look is to pull your hair back. Whether that means a neat ponytail, a bun, top knot, or a French twist, just make sure to practice creating the up-do a couple times before having to create it for the actual interview.

If you do choose to leave your hair down, or if you have hair that is too short to put up, tame any stray hairs or flyaways with hairspray or a comb. In addition, if you keep your hair down, be sure that it isn’t covering your face and that you won’t be tempted to play with it or push it back throughout the duration of the interview.

Frizzy, frazzled, oily, or tangled hair could give the impression to the outside world that you are also frazzled or messy, even if you are actually very put together and organized.

image via imabeautygeek.com

Hands and Nails: Believe it or not, the condition of your hands and nails can leave a very strong impression with possible future employers. The most important thing is to show good hygiene by ridding hands and nails of dirt, grime and food.

Good hygiene gives the impression of organization and responsibility. For men, nails should be cut short. Women’s nails also shouldn’t be excessively long.

In terms of nail polish, color and designs shouldn’t be distracting and shouldn’t take the interviewer’s attention away from you and all of your great qualities and experiences. The best thing to do is to either leave nails unpolished or choose a solid color, preferably a muted tone.

Neutral hues and pinks/reds are always a smart go-to choice for nail polish colors at an interview. If you choose to use polish, it shouldn’t be chipped. Retouch your nails before your interview or wait until shortly before the meeting to ensure that the color is solid and has full coverage.

image via blushingnoir.com

While these guidelines can be applied to most interviews and professional settings, you can do even more to prepare for your specific interview. If you are familiar with the workplace or business, look at what the current employees wear to their jobs. If possible, check out what people in your specific position wear on a daily basis. Sometimes businesses will also have a set dress code available that can be used for reference in order to be in accordance with policy.

Search through the Uloop job listings to find your next Part-Time or Full-Time employment or Internship opportunity. Employers are waiting to hear from you!

I am a junior Broadcast Journalism major and a member of Maryland's Unbound Dance Team and the 2014 UMD Orientation Staff. I hope to one day travel and give a voice to people around the world that need the media's attention and the community's help. I love dancing, participating in service projects, talking about books, watching movies, and eating large amounts of ice cream.

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