Before I interviewed for my current job as senior editor at Motto, I scheduled a gel manicure, plucked my eyebrows, flat-ironed my hair and prayed to the weather gods for 0% humidity.
Of course, I didn’t have to do any of these things before discussing my qualifications with my now-boss. But I chose to follow this routine because it helps me feel my most confident going into an interview—and many women feel compelled to undergo their own version of this ritual.
Here are the products and routines women in various roles rely on to look and feel their best before meeting with a potential new boss.
“The night before an interview, I make sure to exfoliate my face with St Ives Apricot Scrub. Afterward, I layer on something moisturizing, like Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, to make sure my skin looks supple and soft the next day. But if I have a pimple or two, I’ll use Clean & Clear Dual Action Moisturizer instead. I’m usually daring with makeup, but I tone things down for interviews, using a gold shadow that will make my brown eyes pop, a neutral liner, a pinky lip gloss and Anastasia brow pencil in dark brown. I have a small nose ring, which I leave in since I work in a creative field.
My natural hair has a mind of its own, so I don’t try to tame it too much. I just keep it pinned back from my face so I’m not touching it every five seconds, which I think makes women look distracted and fidgety. I know it’s a no-no, but I also wear a musky cologne or my favorite fragrance. Not too much—just enough that every time I get a hint of it, I remember, ‘You got this!’” —Telisha Bryan, copy editor, HGTV Magazine
“I recently went through the interview process for my first real physician job after residency. Kind of nerve-wracking for someone who hasn’t interviewed for a job in eight years! I like feeling natural but professional for both taking care of patients and for interviews. I like Laura Mercier foundation products for a natural look but good coverage. For a pop of color and personality, I like to emphasize the eyes and love the long-lasting power of gel liners like Bobbi Brown’s line. I try to keep cheeks and lips more muted and prefer Nars products.
I try to keep my nails short and manicured with a neutral color. I used to tie my hair back for interviews, but now I feel more comfortable with my hair flat-ironed straight. Finally, to make myself feel a tad more special and confident for an interview day, I spritz a little of my favorite perfume, Marc Jacobs Daisy.” —Lily Huang, physician
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“The night before an interview, I use a fruit enzyme peel (my favorite is a Naturopathica pumpkin peel) to exfoliate my skin. And I drink lots of water in order to hydrate as much as possible—it makes such a difference. More recently, I have been dabbing a bit of vitamin E oil under my eyes, as I’ve found that it helps to brighten and get rid of that unwanted tired look. Day of, I start with a tinted and SPF-laden moisturizer and only add concealer where necessary.
I prefer a more natural look when interviewing, so I usually do a quick brush over my face with Benefit Hello Flawless Powder foundation to even out my skin. I tend to stick with a basic nude palette (light browns, cream highlighters) for eyes and a light pink lip color. I’m a huge fan of Benefit Rockateur Cheek Powder—it smells heavenly and is a nice combination of color and bronzing. I always finish up with lengthening mascara and black eyeliner, as I like my eyes to be the focal point on my face.” —Urmila Srinivas, strategic planner, Apple
“After I moisturize, I always prime my face with Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Blur Primer and hide any imperfections with their Touche Eclat Neutralizers in Green (looks weird in the bottle, but it works wonders!). I finish with a layer of NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in Grouenland. I also use RMS Beauty Un Coverup and Living Luminizer. These add a natural, even glow to my skin and give me that Zen moment in the morning so I can mentally prepare myself for what’s ahead.
When I have an interview, I’ll throw on some Chanel Les Beiges in No. 40 + 70 and Glossier’s Boy Brow in brown to look a bit more awake. I also spend the money on a manicure before interviews. It makes me feel fresh and excited to hand over a portfolio with sleek new nails. I personally am a huge fan of nail art—it’s something a hiring manager will remember even after you walk out the door.” —Samantha Wasser, copartner of by CHLOE and creative director of ESquared Hospitality
Watch some of the world’s most powerful women share the best advice they’ve ever gotten:
“A key part of being an lawyer is being able to project confidence to senior attorneys and clients. If I have an interview or important client meeting, I’ll book an early-morning appointment at DreamDry for a fresh blowout the day of. To brighten up my face, I’ll make time to do a Dermalogica masque the night before.
On an average day, I don’t wear makeup to the office. But if I have an interview, I’ll start with a NARS or Givenchy foundation, topped with NARS Orgasm blush and then use a Benefit or Clinique mascara. Then I grab my big girl purse—a Salvatore Ferragamo satchel—for an extra bit of polish.” —Erika Stallings, trademark/copyright associate at Kelley Drye & Warren LLP
“When I interview for a teaching job, I use minimal makeup and keep my hair style simple. I wear just enough makeup to enhance my looks and to show effort. I want the focus to be on what I’m saying in my interview. My skin is very sensitive, so I try to use either organic products or products with very few chemicals.
My hair routine is more complicated and starts the day before. I wash and condition my hair with Garnier Fructis Color-Stay. Then I deep condition with Shea Moisture’s 10 in 1 Renewal System Hair Masque. After I rinse my hair, I spray it with Aloe Vera Juice. Then I distribute Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-In Conditioner, avocado oil and Kinky Curly Gel or Camille Rose Gel throughout my hair—in that order. I let my curls air dry for about half an hour, and then I use a diffuser to dry my hair and keep frizzing to a minimum.
Before I go to bed, I put a little olive oil or shea butter in my hair to break the gel cast, and then I pineapple my hair on top of my head. By the morning, my curls are soft and defined. I can either wear it out in a cascade of coils or put it in a high or low ponytail.
When I audition for acting roles, it’s similar, but how much makeup and the way I style my hair depends on the role that I am auditioning for. If I want to look young, I wear brighter lipstick and blush. I wear my hair out or up high. If want to look older, I wear a darker matte lipstick and my hair is in a low ponytail.” —Maiysha Jones, fifth-grade teacher/actress
“Leading up to a big day, I like to do an at-home apple cider vinegar rinse on my hair to strip away lingering product buildup and boost shine. I also take omega and other supplements daily (e.g., magnesium, primrose oil) that help me maintain a healthy baseline and build resiliency to stress. Next, I focus on eyebrow prep. I like to make an appointment with Benefit eyebrow stylist Raquel, by whom I swear, and polish off her touch-up with Benefit’s brow mascara.
The night beforehand, I treat to myself a blowout to create polish. The day of, I use a little bit of concealer and a mineral-based foundation to even out my skin tone. I put a touch of bronzer along my cheekbones and sometimes wrap up with a quick coat of mascara, and then I’m out the door.” —Caroline Ghosn, CEO and founder of Levo