Let me start with the disclaimer that I work in the fashion industry so my appearance plays a rather large role in whether I get called back for a job. But image is a factor in every industry and people do judge candidates off first glance when conducting job interviews.

When I was job hunting, I even surprised by myself by how much I focused on image.

It wasn’t enough for my friends and I to print fresh copies of our resumes, learn all we could about the hiring company and rehearse answers to tough questions. We had to find sensible, designer pumps, buy an expensive-looking bag, wear our hair sleeked back off our face and give ourselves a fresh coat of nail polish.

I wondered if we were being a bit obsessive for going to great lengths to make sure we looked the part, in every facet possible. Turns out we were not.

A survey, conducted by Debenhams, shows that employers pay attention to beauty blunders and make assumptions about the job seeker based on them. The Daily Mail reports:

“They say it takes 30 seconds for interviewers to make their minds up about a candidate, but it could be down to a set of beauty blunders many people aren’t even aware of, that makes or breaks an interview. Chipped nails, split ends and smudged mascara top the list of cosmetic catastrophes that put interviewers off a candidate. Untidy chipped nail polish is a complete no-no, with interviewers rating it their worst beauty blunder, and the first thing they notice as they shake hands upon arrival.”

The report also names faux pauxs like a strong line of foundation or heavily penciled brows that can turn off employers, who interpret it as a lack of concentration or overconfidence, respectively.

Some employers find nail polish and pared-down makeup as essential as ironing your clothes. While interviews shouldn’t feel like a beauty pageant or a fashion show, it is important to make sure you look the part. But is this taking it too far? What are your thoughts, Clutchettes?

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  • blqdymnd

    The truth is, you are always being judged. As a recruiter, I look at every detail, even down to your purse. Your interview is not the time to make a fashion statement (i.e. a black suit and bright purple bag, for a “splash of color”).

    You should also take your hair styles into consideration. Even though you paid $700 for some 24″ virgin brazillian hair, the interview is not the time to show it off. It’s distracting.

    Peep toes, open toes, or even patent leather shoes should not be worn either. Save them for the club.

  • i was just thinking today about how false it is when people say “looks don’t matter” and “what other people think doesn’t matter” um… it DOES matter. why else do people dress nice for job interviews?

  • justanotheropinion

    For interviews, you are def being judged. Smart folks dress and act conservative. Once you get the job (and you are past your probationary period), you can ease up a bit. Face it, the fashionably non-conservative DO NOT make the choice as to whether you get to the next round of interviews (unless it’s the fashion or entertainment industry – but they even have standards). Learn to play the game – cuz that’s all it is…a game. Those that know how to play, get hired and have a chance at moving up. Those that want to ‘make a statement’ don’t get past the first round of interviews. It ain’t pretty, but it’s reality.

  • Starla

    I wore open toe shoes to my last interview and landed the job just fine. While the tips being given in the article and by the readers are great; at the end of the day it all boils down to likeability. Above education, skills, and experience likeability will trump everyone of them.

    How do you make yourself likeable? Smile, be polite, engaging, and treat the interview as though you are talking with a lifelong friend while maintaining utmost professionalism of course. If you can find one thing you have in common then build on that. Even in 20 minutes you can build rapport and leave a lasting impression. Don’t go too personal now. Good Luck!

    • Very true. I once showed up late and terribly under dressed for an interview (not a fact I’m proud of, but a fact none the less) and still got the job. I can only imagine the other girl up for the position must have been just awful, but I’d also like to think that my personality and qualifications had a lot to do with it too.

  • gwaangyal

    Great arcle. Some ppl just dont know..and it isnt really completelytheir fault..you dont know what you dont know.I have to be really careful with what I wear in a corporate setting. Sheath and shift dresses are nice..but they accentuate my curves a bit too much. Some ppl dont mind that, but I dont want ppl staring at my butt at work. I love semi wl dress pants. I live in them..black, gray, tweed, high waist, trouser style, etc. I used to prefer short sleeve sweater type of tops but I’ve recently found some comfy button down oxfords with just the right amoutn of stretch. Super simple and they make you look extra smart!