Most young adults assume they know the basics of preparing for a job interview: dress professionally, show up on time, and greet the employer with a firm handshake. But what about the other aspects of your appearance? How should you wear your hair? Should you go in with a full face of makeup or opt for a more natural look? Cologne or no cologne? And what about accessories?
You may not stop to consider your beauty and grooming habits when prepping for an interview because you assume employers won’t notice them. But, they do. Simple elements from your haircut, to your shade of lipstick, or your choice of earrings can impact the likelihood of landing a job.
In today’s corporate environment where employers aren’t thrilled about hiring millennials, it’s important that recent college graduates know how to go into an interview with their best foot forward.
When deciding how to wear your hair to an interview, it’s important to choose a style that’s neat and age appropriate. According to Popsugar Beauty, colorful, child-like hair clips, bows or barrettes should be avoided. While you don’t want to look too young, you don’t want to look too old either. Steer clear of outdated hairstyles like mullets and beehives. Lastly, for those with voluminous or naturally curly hair, consider wearing a style that is pulled back away from the face. Big hair can be distracting to the person conducting the interview. You want them to focus on you, not your hair.
Now, for the guys. Men should keep their hair neatly trimmed, making sure it’s off of the ears and shirt collar.
“Some employers don’t like facial hair,” says Karen Marks, associate director of career services at Kennesaw State University. “They [the candidate] may have to shave their beard or goatee if that’s the case.”
Also, if you’re balding, do not comb longer pieces of hair over the bald spot. As the case with big hair, you want the employer to be focused on you instead of your bald spot.
Accessories add the finishing touch to an ensemble. Not all accessories are acceptable in a professional setting, however. When going in for an interview, women should avoid wearing flashy or gaudy jewelry. You shouldn’t wear any jewelry that dangles either, such as bangles or hoop earrings. A simple pearl or gold necklace is acceptable.
For men, large rings and watches aren’t appropriate. Men should opt for a watch with a smaller face or not wear one at all.
Accessories, especially those worn on the hands and wrists, are most noticed by employers when you’re writing or speaking. Therefore, it’s important not to wear too many pieces of jewelry.
“There is what they call the rule of seven,” says Marks. “You count to see how many accessories you have on. This keeps you from looking too busy.”
A good manicure, or lack thereof, is another aspect of grooming that employers notice. Both men and women should have clean, neatly filed nails. Also, no chipped nail polish whatsoever. This indicates a lack of attention to detail. Excessively long nails and child-like nail colors are inappropriate as well. Popsugar Beauty says classic colors like red and tan are acceptable. However, you can never go wrong with a few coats of clear nail polish.
When it comes to doing makeup for a job interview, less is more. Ladies should choose to wear a more natural look, rather than a full face of heavy makeup.
“Natural doesn’t mean no makeup,” says John Hernandez, beauty team artist for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. “It means the right makeup for the woman.”
Dark eye liner and lip liner should be avoided, as they are too harsh and draw too much attention to specific parts of the face. Hernandez suggests wearing lip stick however, as lip gloss is too casual for such a formal interview. As with nail polish, loud or glittery lipstick shades aren’t acceptable.
“Keep it clean, polished and looking like yourself, not someone else,” Hernandez says.
Cologne and perfume
If you’re thinking about spritzing on a little cologne or perfume before heading to a job interview, don’t! The employer may be turned off by your scent, so it’s best not to wear any at all.
“If you happen to be in a small room, that’s all the employer is going to notice,” says Marks. “You don’t want to put someone off because you don’t know if they have allergies or something.”
A professional appearance is key, but many forget that good grooming is an important part of it. First impressions are almost always based on looks, so why not put your best foot forward? It’s critical that millennials are able to make a positive first impression with their appearance before they’re asked to speak at a job interview.
“You want to be at an advantage,” says Marks. “If you look like someone I want to hire that I think could be in my organization, I’m already gong to give you a break.”