Interview Makeup Tips: How to Look Like The Best Version of Yourself For Your Interview

interview makeup tips for law firms2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on interview makeup tips — links have also been updated below.

We haven’t talked about what makeup to wear while interviewing in far too long, so let’s discuss: what makeup do you consider a must for interviewing? How does your interview makeup differ from your everyday makeup? What are your best interview makeup tips in general?

I’ve noted before that I think the main purpose of interview makeup is to make you look awake and alive. Otherwise, makeup should be such that it removes itself from the hiring equation — your interviewer should not notice your makeup, and you shouldn’t be distracted from your makeup. Along those lines, this is what my interview makeup looks like:

  • Concealer.  This is a must for me and the dark circles under my eyes. Lately I’m using Maybelline Instant Age Rewind concealer, but I’ve also liked Revlon Photoready Concealer in the past (maybe even better than the Maybelline one). 2017 Update: This is my new favorite concealer — a little bit goes a long way!
  • An even skin tone.  For some women this means foundation; for some women this means bare skin is fine. For me right now I like the middle road, which is BareMinerals — another middle road would be a BB cream or a tinted moisturizer. If you DO choose to go with foundation, note that it has to be the right shade, and blended well — evaluate yourself in multiple different lights, as well as from different angles, to make sure that your foundation is not a faux pas.
  • Bronzer or blush.  Most winter long I’ve been wearing much more bronzer than blush because it makes me look alive, yet suits my generally minimal makeup routine.  I will note that it is far easier to find the right shade of blush than bronzer, though — some are too orange, some too brown, some too cakey, etc. Right now I like NYC Bronzing Powder in Sunny, which I heard about somewhere as a good dupe for something I no longer remember. For an interview I would also add a touch of blush to the apples of my cheeks for a bit more fresh-faced color; I’m still liking the Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush.
  • Mascara and eyeliner.  For me there is a big, big difference in how I look without these two things — I just feel that much more put together when wearing them. Watch out for eyeliner applied incorrectly (I’d probably go with a pencil liner versus a liquid liner for this very reason), as well as for issues stemming from your mascara such as flakes, raccoon eyes, or mascara on your eyelids. My current favorite mascara is Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes. 2017 Update: And I’m back to using my longstanding favorite mascara, Voluminous.

All of the above are pretty much my wear-everyday-no-matter-what look (minus the Bare Minerals — I also use a liquid liner more often because, while it is far easier to go wrong, I find it quicker to apply).

Extra Products I’d Add for Interview Makeup

  • Probably at least two shades of neutral eyeshadow, one for a touch of color over my entire lower lid, and one for a bit of contouring in my eyelid crease. Right now I really like two old colors I’ve had for a while, both from Bobbi Brown: Bronzed Pink (for base) and Cognac (for the crease).  Another option: this very popular palette from Urban Decay.
  • Brow pencil (and definitely well-groomed eybrows).  Even though I’m a brunette, I feel like the brown colors are always too overwhelming, so I usually choose a blonde pencil. I’m kind of on the hunt for a new one here, to be honest — Anastasia is fine for now. 2017 Update: I like Glossier’s Boy Brow, but it takes a bit of getting used to — don’t try to use it for the first time the day of an interview!
  • Unmoveable lipstick.  This is one of those big things that you don’t want to be distracted by — you don’t want to have to reapply it mid-day if you have multiple interviews, you don’t want to suddenly realize it’s on your teeth, and you don’t want to wonder how or if it’s fading.  So for an interview I would avoid a red lip and stick with a fairly neutral shade — as much as I love my mauves I’d probably stick with a toffee or caramel shade. 2017 Update: There are so many great options for unmoveable lipsticks right now — lately I’m liking this option from Tarte.

The final step — the unmoveable lip — is different than my general workday makeup because I sometimes find long-wearing lipsticks to be drying, but maybe that’s just me.  Just to contrast interview makeup from workday makeup from OTHER makeup: for desk to dinner makeup I might touch up my concealer with something like Touche Eclat, or add something with more sparkle like Nars the Multiple in Orgasm; for weekend party makeup I generally do a smoky eye with various dark shades like chocolate, black, dark gray, or occasionally a teensy pop of royal blue or bright purple.

Ladies, what does YOUR interview makeup look like? Have you ever been on either side of an interview where there was a regrettable makeup decision?  Do you have any favorite YouTube tutorials or the like for interview makeup?

Pictured at top: Revlon PhotoReady Concealer / NYC Bronzer / Tarte Blush / Bobbi’s Browns Eye Palette / Revlon Colorstay Overtime.

Picture below via Stencil.

Interview Makeup Tips | CorporetteWe always get asked for our best interview makeup tips -- really it comes down to looking like the best version of yourself for the interview. Our best tips, here:



  1. la vie en bleu :

    1 word: Primer
    It’s something I don’t worry about much on a regular basis, but an absolute must for interviews. Esp for eyelids and other oily spots. Guarantees I don’t have to think about my make up AT ALL once I leave my house. I use Smashbox.

    • Great point!

    • Rogue Banker :

      Seconded! Primer makes ALL the difference. I have Tarte’s Shadow Insurance eye primer, and Benefit’s That Gal face primer, and both of them make stuff stay put all day. I think the eyeshadow primer also intensifies the color of your shadow, so you don’t have to use quite so much. Good stuff.

      • I LOVE That Gal so much!! I wish I could buy a vat of it rather than the little tubes – I’d pay anything for a larger sizes because I always seem to go through those tubes so quickly.

        • Rogue Banker :

          That stuff is a lifesaver. It’s like putting a layer of “awake alert alive and well-rested” under your makeup. :P But yes, the tubes go so quickly! And a bulk discount wouldn’t be unwelcome either… XD

    • Senior Attorney :

      And I know the brand name makes some people twitch, but I have used Smashbox primer, and I have used Monistat Chafing Relief Powder Gel as primer, and honest to God I can’t tell the difference. And it’s, like, 1/3 the price:

      • Yep, I get a lot of primer samples and the Chafing Relief works just as well as any of them.

    • TO Lawyer :

      I like urban decay’s eyeshadow primer, although the packaging can be a little annoying.

      • I am on the hunt for a good eyeshadow primer, because my eyeshadow migrates downward by later morning – a big problem both for interviews and other important meetings (as well as, you know, life).

        • I just use my regular concealer as primer.

        • anon-oh-no :

          I love trish mcevoy eye base. just bought a new one today. its awesome.

        • Baconpancakes :

          I use Sephora’s eye primer, and I’m very happy with it, and it’s reasonably priced.

          Does everyone just use the same primer on oily spots as on your eyes, only use eye primer, or use a different primer for the rest of your face?

          • Rogue Banker :

            One primer for the eyes, another for the face. Mainly because my eye primer has one purpose – make the stuff on top of it stay exactly where I put it – but I need my face primer to do a little more than that (either mattify or brighten, depending on what kind of stupid my skin is being that morning).

        • just_here :

          huge fan of origins eyeshadow primer. in a pinch i also just wear it.

        • WorkingMom123 :

          The best one is the Nars Pro Prime. Lorac makes a good one too. The Urban Decay one is just ok for me.

        • The Elf eyelid primer is great and it’s literally like $2.

        • lawsuited :

          I’ve tried the eyeshadow primers from Urban Decay, Smashbox, Too Faced and Nars, and I still prefer my MAC paint pot best. I use a matte shade that closely matches my skin tone – it covers the veins on my eyelids, doesn’t crease, and keeps my eyeshadow on all day. It’s what I reach for on red letter days when I need goof-proof makeup and it’s never let me down.

    • Agreed. I find primer too gunky-feeling and fussy to wear on a daily basis, but I do break it out for interviews (and times when I’m getting my picture taken). I use the Chafing Relief gel, too, though I might try something else when (if) I run out, given the unpleasant gunky feeling.

    • Shiseido has a fantastic primer!!!!

  2. Second the Instant Age Rewind concealer. It’s a perennial fave of mine. The foam applicator also is easy on sensitive undereye skin.
    I’ve always thought expensive blushes are the only way: Tarina Tarantino I can’t get in Europe so I switched over to Lancome Blush Subtil, which has an awesome apricot shade. But I’ve recently become a fan of the Max Factor creme blush – in Cardinal – great texture for a drugstore product.

    And for interviews, Lisa Eldrige’s No Makeup Up tutorial is awesome. My number one learning was to stop focusing only on expensive product but get some BRUSHES

    • Rogue Banker :

      Good brushes make a lot of difference. A $4 shadow put on with a $20 brush looks much, much better than a $25 shadow put on with a $1 brush. Plus, the fancy brushes feel so much better on your skin!

    • S in Chicago :

      What brushes do you all like? I’ve never really thought much about the quality of the brush used before (unless it’s really cheap/poorly made and is leaving little hairs trailing on my face after use).

      • My friend told me she uses very good quality MAC brushes and recommends them. Apparently you can get them for a good price on sale.
        I have also never really thought about it before, then I was considering the Urban Decay Naked travel palette that has everything, including eyeliner and mascara, but no brushes. Now I am considering buying these two things (the Naked palette and good brushes) over the next six months, unless I find a better palette by then, that does have brushes.
        I was initially looking to buy makeup to leave at work or bring on travel, but it sounds like the MAC brushes may be an item worth of leaving at home for everyday use.

      • I use elf brushes from target and they’re cheap and do a pretty good job. :)

      • Veronica Mars :

        For really nice, inexpensive brushes, I’d recommend Real Techniques, Eco Tools and Sonia Kashuk brushes. Start with RT and then fill in anything you need with Sonia, and then if you need any other big face brushes or kabukis, go for ET.

        • I can second Eco Tools. They work!

          • WorkingMom123 :

            I don’t like them. I started with Eco Tools, but once I got into makeup, I found that for budget shoppers, Real Techiques is better. I think Sigma and MAC are best of all.

      • WorkingMom123 :

        I love brushes… My favorites are:
        – Sigma: either the F80 and 582 for foundation, E55 and E40 for the eyes, E60 for all over shadow (but prefer the E55 overall. I also like the E55 better than the MAC 239), F10 for blush.
        – Mac 217 and 219 for eyes.
        – Real Techniques blush brush for bronzer. I also like the All Purpose Face Brush for face powder.
        – It Cosmetics French Boutique Blush Brush
        – Sephora #43 all over complexion brush is hands down my favorite powder brush

  3. I generally wear foundation or tinted moisturizer and mascara every day. For an interview or other formal appearance, I would add a rose or berry lipstick, which work better with my tan/olive skin tone than nude or pink. Lip color makes me feel more polished and put-together. Oh! And setting powder, so that I don’t shine like a disco ball by midday.

  4. My interview makeup look would be Kat’s “everyday” makeup plus primer and lipstick. Brows (ideally) will be threaded, otherwise I’ll use Anastasia brow gel to smooth them into place. I’m currently loving CoverFX’s CC cream, Shea Moisture pressed powder, and Bobbi brown eyeline in the pot (can’t remember the exact name). My perfect shade of blush is Clinique (surprisingly, their shades are often too chalky for my caramel skin) but I don’t know the exact name.

  5. Does anyone have recommendations for drugstore eyeliner pencils?

    • Anonymous :

      I love the twist-up L’Oreal Pencil Perfect.

    • Jordana, available at Walgreens and Kmart, is pretty good. I just use an eyeliner brush with whatever brown shadow I have.

    • I second the vote for Jordana pencils at Walgreens – nice color and smooth application, but not super long lasting. Still, you can’t beat the price!

  6. Completely agree with Kat’s assessment. This is almost exactly what I wore to a recent interview, and aced it!

    Mine consists of: CC cream, mineral powder, eyelid primer, eyebrow filler, neutral-ish eyeshadow, blush, eyeliner, mascara, and tinted lip balm (I don’t do straight up lipstick and my lips are naturally pink enough to be fine if it wears off).

    The only added thing I used was luminizer. I feel like using it above my eyes and cheekbones gives my face a really youthful and awake glow. I only recently discovered using luminizer, courtesy of one of my beauty box subscriptions, and I totally love it.

    • S in Chicago :

      Oooh. I want to try that. What brand of luminizer do you use? I’ve tried Touche Eclat, but I’m not sure if that’s what you mean by a luminizer.

  7. Rogue Banker :

    I love makeup posts. :)

    My every-day makeup – SPF/moisturizer first thing after I wash my face, let it sink in while I go get dressed. Primers on face and lids (I have fairly oily skin, so if I skip primer my makeup is a mess by noon). Lightweight foundation, concealer under the eyes and on any problem spots. Loose powder over everything that isn’t eyelids. Brow pencil, spoolie brush to soften it up a little. Liquid tint on cheeks and lips, little bit of highlighter on cheekbones, matching tinted lip balm. Eyeshadow shade varies depending on what color clothes I’m wearing – I’ve basically got a pink set, a brown duo, and bright orange and purple standalones that I like for days when my clothes are monochrome and I don’t have to worry about it clashing. Tightline upper lashes, curl, mascara. It looks like a lot when I type it out, but it’s about seven minutes from start to finish.

    Interview makeup – slightly more coverage – a heavier foundation, concealer in more spots. Very subtle contour effect on my cheekbones. Add actual liner to the eyes in addition to the tightline on the upper lashes, but keep the shadow light – no bright colors. Keep everything neutral as possible, but make sure it’s a very polished neutral. Swap out the lip balm for a no-budge lipstick in a pinky-brown. Make sure I have pressed powder or blotter sheets in my bag to handle shine right before I walk in.
    Also, not exactly makeup, but I always like to get my brows touched up a few days before I know I need to look my best, and a manicure in either a neutral or the color of the shell I’m wearing for the day.

    What not to do – This is not the time to take a cue from the latest issue of Glamour. Yes, the electric purple lip gloss looks very good on the models, as does the complex, curlie-cued eyeliner, but wear them tomorrow, after the interview. (And yes, I’ve seen both of those on interviewees. Thankfully not on the same lady!)
    Even if you don’t wear nail polish, neaten up the nails a little with a file so they don’t snag on your clothes. On the other end of the spectrum, two inches long, filed to points and shimmery acid green is also probably a bad idea.

    The general idea should be that the makeup is not the thing that gets noticed. You want them to think “Oh, she has very expressive eyes,” not “She has killer eyeshadow.” “She has such a warm smile,” not “That lipstick is so cool.”

  8. Bronzer – I wear the Body Shop one in shade 2 on a daily basis. (Skintone reference – Anna Kendrick ish). It’s got enough colour to make me look alive and healthy but not enough that you can tell I’m wearing bronzer.

  9. I love makeup. For an interview, you need:

    – Foundation: If you don’t have one already, get a good, long-lasting foundation. Go to Sephora and get it matched. They give samples, try the samples and make sure the match is good. It’s a worthwhile investment.
    – Concealer: Both undereye and on blemishes.
    – Finishing powder: If you have oily skin, you need this. Even if you don’t, a touch of Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder is like magic.
    – Bronzer: Dust this around your face where the sun naturally hits. My favorite is the Too Faced Chocolate Soleil.
    – Blush: Anything Neutral. Tarte makes good long-lasting blushes. Clinique Color Pop Blushes are really good too.
    – Eyeshadow (see tips below). You need a neutral look. Don’t forget the eyeshadow primer. It’s a must.
    – Mascara

    As for eyeshadow I do not like Bobbi Brown eyeshadows. The pigmentation isn’t great and they aren’t very blendable.

    Every girl should have a good neutral palette in her arsenal. There are lots to choose from but as a lawyer, I’d choose something with a good balance of shimmer and matte shades. My top pics for professional use are:

    (1) Too Faced Natural Eye
    (2) Too Faced Chocolate Bar (either the Original or Semi-Sweet)
    (3) Mac Nordstrom Neutrals
    (4) Stila in the Light (I think it is being discontinued, but you may be able to find it. If not, there are a bunch of new Stila palettes out that are supposedly very go0d)
    (5) Lorac Pro (either 1 or 2)

    As much as I love Urban Decay Naked, all of my suggestions have more matte shades. If palettes scare you, get a Laura Mercier caviar stick in a neutral shade, color your lid, blend the edges with your finger or a fluffy brush.

    And, if you’re a makeup novice, get thee onto YouTube and learn how to put some on. Makeup makes you look more polished, younger, and more awake.

  10. I do everything Kat said except blush, mascara, and eyeliner. Nowadays, my everyday makeup sometimes includes eyeliner when I have time for it lol. I use primer if I know I will have makeup on for a long time today (like if I’m going to an event after work). I don’t use mascara or curl my eyelashes most days because they hit the lens of my glasses. Even without mascara my eyelashes touch my lens throughout the day. Sigh.

    For eyeshadow I have the basic naked palette but I don’t use it as much as I should. Ditto on the blush. I don’t like spending lots of time on my makeup.

  11. It's Just Business :

    Hello! First time posting… I see some fabulous suggestions here! My reccomendation: Flawless skin for a healthy, fresh look. Now- I am NOT saying no makeup! Start with exfoliating with a quality scrub and then a mini facial by massaging (especially temples, eyes and cheeks) with a great moisturizer that penetrates deeply yet doesn’t leave skin too oily. Then a good foundation (Revlon Colorstay is great at $12!) then plenty of concealer (under eyes, along nose crease, upper lip, down bridge of nose, and on chin) this is an easy way to get a contoured look. Then place fine finishing powder under eyes and in t-zone. Then follow with bronzer on cheekbones, a simple matte blush on cheeks, intensify brows with pencil/powder (even eyeshadow works) and matte shadow in skin tones (one light for lid, one dark for crease). A great blending brush for perfecting the eye is Real Techniques (Ulta). I prefer using dark shadow to line the eye rather than pencil… Super blendable and no smudges. I don’t do lips bc they are too high maintinence as the day goes on. Finish with loose powder all over to set and plenty of mascara to the upper lashes only to add “pop” to the eyes. Voila! Makeup that accentuates who you are! *As a side note, may be wise to skip the perfume for an interview. Allergies etc… Can really offend others and it’s better to be safe than sorry! GOOD LUCK TO ALL THE INTERVIEW CANDIDATES OUT THERE!

  12. Anonymous Associate :

    Generally, agree with everything here. Another trick for dark circles is using an eye shadow under your eyes that is about the same color as your skin. I think it gives a lighter feel than concealer, esp. if you are more of a tinted moisturizer person than a foundation person. Heavy concealer with tinted moisturizer is hard to blend.

    One thing though is that the color suggestions are more for white women. I don’t blame Kat, she is indeed a white woman! I’ll offer my advice/practices as a Persian lady. For being Persian, I am extremely pale, but not rosy in the least, and have black eyes and black hair. Japanese makeup brands seem to have the best colors for me for foundation. I am really into Shiseido’s Urban Environment Tinted UV Protector (SPF 40)!

    For eyeshadow, I have found using lighter “neutral” palettes that work on others leave me washed out looking and sickly, so I go with deep chocolate browns, blend with a rust color, and use a lighter brown/khaki for lack of a better word up to the brow bone. I love Smashbox eyeshadows. Love Love Love.

    As for blush, pinks and peaches look like clown-makeup. I use a NARS bronzer as a blush-i.e., applying with a blush brush and on my cheeks only!

    For lipstick, I usually wear bold colors like bright red or hot pink. Light pinks and neutrals look super weird on me. But for court/interviews, I go with a fairly deep brown, like Tom Ford Gustavo. In love with that at the mo.

    For mascara, Dior Show is second to none! But I also like Estee Lauder Sumptuous Infinite.

  13. So… I don’t really know how to apply makeup. About to start articling in a (Canadian) BigLaw firm. Tips on where / how to learn? Youtube videos that are good, stores that do demos, even a class that I could take?

    • Youtube fan :

      Youtube “GlamLifeGuru”. Her youtube name is cheesy but she’s really good at explaining everything from the basics to the fancy shamncy. She also does lots of makeup reviews on both high end makeup and drugstore stuff.
      Also in Canada, Sephora, MAC stores, and the Bay offer make up lessons at their makeup counters. Just go ask. They might be free as long as you spend XX amount of money on makeup. Good luck!

      • Thank you!

      • WorkingMom123 :

        I second this recommendation. I also would check out MakeupByTiffanyD. She is very skilled with makeup and loves neutrals, so a lot of her color recommendations are appropriate for lawyers.

        I like KathleenLights too. She is super young, but she is great with makeup. Her looks aren’t always lawyer appropriate, but her techniques are good.

    • lawsuited :

      Also check out Lisa Eldridge – she has a strong focus on educational videos (eg. How to choose the right foundation, how to fill in brows, etc.), and generally has a natural-looking approach to makeup that would be appropriate at my downtown Toronto office.

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