Once, while being interviewed for a job in the beauty department at a top magazine, a senior-level editor asked me, point blank, why I was wearing so little makeup. (Truth was, I was actually wearing a decent amount of makeup—I'm just so stealth in how I apply it that it only looked as though I had none on.) This person's stance was, if I was seeking a job in beauty, I should be the kind of person who not only wears makeup, but wears it well. A fair enough point, but I was still taken aback because what this person was essentially saying was that I didn't look my best in the interview. I remember walking out of the office and kicking myself for not having put on more blush, or a brighter lipstick. But I'd held back because I'd figured when it comes to a job interview, better to err on the side of conservative, right?
Wrong. At least according to Newsweek, which recently polled corporate hiring managers (60 percent of whom were male) on just how important beauty is to landing—and then excelling at—a job. The results indicate that—surprise!—potential employers are more likely to favor a person he or she thinks is attractive. The article, which you can read here, goes so far as to state, "Paying attention to your looks isn’t just about vanity, it’s about economic survival." In fact, more than half the hiring managers advised candidates to spend "as much time and money on 'making sure they look attractive' as on perfecting a résumé." But while the bulk of the poll findings are rather predictable, what's noteworthy is that women are expected to strike the perfect balance of looking pretty but not too pretty at work. Sixty-one percent of the hiring managers surveyed believe a woman will benefit at work from wearing clothing that shows off her figure (interesting how that's the same percentage of managers surveyed who were male!). But before you start dressing like Mad Men's Joan Holloway, keep in mind 47 percent of those same managers also said they believe a woman can be penalized at the office for being too good-looking.
So what's a hard-working girl to do? Well, despite apparently not wearing enough makeup to my interview that day, I did end up getting the job. What the Newsweek polls also reveals is that "experience" and "confidence" rank first and second (above "looks," which comes in third) on a list of what those polled consider the most important employee attributes. I think Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive summed it up best when, while discussing the poll findings on the Today show this morning, she said, "If you're looking at every applicant that comes through your door and saying, 'Do you look like Gisele?', then you're probably not going to have a very good staff." (Click here to watch the full segment.)
When you have a job interview, what type of makeup do you wear? Do you wear more, less, or the same amount as usual?
PHOTO FROM BLACKBOOK MAGAZINE