Preparing to land your dream job, or even your “stepping-stone-job” on the way to that dream, is exciting and a little scary. New York fashion agencies will tell you, if you’re after a career in fashion, from retail to manufacturing, the image you project in an interview will affect your chances of a successful outcome. Just as you prepare your wardrobe, also spend a little time planning your makeup and overall look, but keep in mind: less is more. It’s all about strategic use of just enough color to enhance your natural beauty.

Looking Good and Feeling Strong

Whether interviewing with the department head of a major manufacturer, or one of the top retail job recruiters, project confidence during an interview, and you’re more likely to convince the interviewer that you can get the job done. It’s hard to project what you don’t feel, so take steps to build up your confidence in advance. Getting your makeup right means you can put your best face forward—after all, that’s what the interviewer will be looking at throughout your session! If you know you’ve nailed “the look,” you can set it and forget it, and, hopefully, nail the job as well.

Retail agencies in New York advise that you prepare for your interview by learning as much as possible online about the company. You’ll feel more confident and get some idea of their values and priorities, as well as their sense of style. You may be applying to work for a super-edgy, fashion forward company with a counter-culture image, but don’t assume that the staff show up to work looking like their advertising image. Until you’ve been inside and interacted with employees of the firm, you need to walk a middle line, keeping a neutral, professional look.

blonde woman posing

Makeup – The Foundation

It’s called foundation for a reason. Your liquid or powder makeup is the base of your look, creating an even-toned, perfected background, ready for any additional touches. Be sure to start with a moisturizer that suits your skin type—not too greasy, but rich enough to eliminate dryness and help foundation makeup glide on smoothly. Even if you normally avoid blusher, it’s a good idea to add a light swipe of low-key color to the apples of the cheeks, to give you a healthy glow. Blend in lightly with fingertips to avoid looking overdone.

Makeup – The Eyes

First, apply a neutral tone to the total lid. If cream shadows work for you and don’t get gummed up in the crease of your eyelid, great; otherwise, choose powder. That may be all you need, or, for more definition, add a darker, still neutral shade in the brown range to the crease of your lid. Hold back from brightening things up with glittery, trendy colored shadows, and save them for the club. A light touch of eyeliner brings out your eye color. Avoid heavily lined, smoky eyes, and remember to keep the neutral, professional, polished look going with a thin application along upper and lower lash lines.

Mascara is a must for all but a very few people, who are gifted with dark, full lashes, and, even then, a swipe of mascara just enhances what nature already bestowed. Keep lashes looking tidy, and avoid littering your eyes with bits of dried mascara by using a lash comb to remove clumping.

Makeup – Brows

Yes, your eyebrows are part of the picture. Younger job applicants should be blessed with healthy, full—but not too full—eyebrows. As we age, brows become thinner and often behave in strange ways. Young or not-so-young, the ideal is to maintain a natural look that makes the most of your own brows. Sparse and uneven brows need a slightly lighter-colored brow pencil to fill in and extend the line, fully framing your eye. If they’re too full and lack shape, take a little time to pluck strays (before the day of your interview), and lightly comb through or dab on a tiny droplet of Vaseline to hold them in place.

picking eyebrow

Makeup – The Lips

You love the look of a neutral face with a bold, strong color, like fire-engine red on the lips. Who doesn’t? Sadly, this is another case of saving it for the weekend. It’s amazing what people can read into something as personal as lip color, but, rather than risk the outcome of your interview, opt for a lighter, more neutral shade to avoid distractions and maintain the put-together professional look.1 Pinks and corals are good for most people, and, if you have a chance before going in for your appointment, do a quick mirror check and freshen up that lipstick. Nothing disappears faster, especially if you’ve sipped a beverage while waiting. Use a brand you’re familiar and comfortable with, rather than trying something new that might dramatically change color on you mid-interview, or, worse yet, lead to a lip-puffing allergic reaction. It happens.

Do Your Nails

If you ever needed an excuse for treating yourself to a manicure, this is it. Can’t afford a manicure until after you’ve landed that big salary? No problem. Just make sure nails are neat, clean, carefully filed, and coated in a toned down, neutral color, like a pink or flesh-tone.

A Few Don’ts

Don’t wear fragrance. Some people are seriously allergic to it, while others are very particular about certain scents. You don’t need it.

Don’t get crazy with your hair. Follow the same rule as applied for makeup and wardrobe: keep it neutral and professional. If you can, go for a smoothed-down look, and pull or comb it away from your face.

Don’t forget to smile. It’s irresistible.


The interview day arrives and you’re up ahead of your usual time to give more attention to personal primping. Dressing is easy because you’ve laid everything out the night before, including professional looking shoes (don’t try to totter in to an interview on 5-inch heels unless you’re really confident, or a runway model), and your trim, neat briefcase or bag with a notepad, pen, tablet, and hard copies of your resume—yes, actual paper, just in case.3 If the position calls for submitting a portfolio, you’ve already done it, or have the file at your fingertips, plus a hard copy in its proper carrier.

Check your look in the mirror … and, voila! Now you can forget about the makeup, the clothes, and all the other details, because they’ve come together to create a unified, confident you. When you’re prepared, then your best, most confident self shines through, and you’re on your way to a bright new future.

makeup supplies

Categories: Tips