Hairstyles for an Interview

Professional look for the office with blouse and ponytail
Photo: StockLite/Shutterstock
Q: I’m a 20-year-old girl and going for a job interview (office job) for the first time in my life next week. My hair is just over shoulder length and straight with bangs. I plan to wear trousers, a button front blouse and a jacket.
Can you give me tips for hairstyles for an interview? Can I keep my hair long and loose or should I put it up or maybe get a new haircut?

A: The choice of looks found in the corporate (or even small business) environment these days is much broader than when women were first emerging as equals (in potential, at least) in business.
The days of power-hairstyles and overly fussy looks have thankfully passed, but women are still expected to look good in their jobs. Hairstyles for an interview, however, are doubly important because how you look often says things about you, whether or not you mean them to be said.
Here are some things to remember:
Know your environment. Before your interview, see what you can do to find out about the dress codes for the office environment you are trying to get into. What kinds of styles do most of the women have for their hair? If the majority of the women are wearing conservative looks, you may want to follow their lead.
If the looks are diverse and cover a wide range, you can feel more comfortable with your personal style preferences. Check with your employment agency or recruiter, if you have one, to find out about dress codes and preferences beforehand. It will look good for you.
Stylish woman at the office To stay on the safe side, keep it simple. An interviewer looks for someone whose appearance is neat, clean and presentable. In hairstyles, there is a lot of leeway generally, but you want to keep in mind the image you are putting forth.
Some employers will be more impressed by the neatly dressed young woman with her hair styled in a loose twist or simple chignon than by the young woman who looks as though she spends most of her morning grooming her hair. I know it’s a catch-22, but people do really expect you to put effort into looking good without looking like you put effort into looking good.
Finally, choose a style you can easily maintain. You don’t want to try to wear your hair in even a simple up-style if your hair is prone to falling down before lunchtime. An employer may be less impressed with a candidate who is spending the time before her interview tinkering with her hair than one who’s able to appear confident and ready.
For specific suggestions, I recommend going with the following. For a conservative environment, a simple French twist style is always serviceable, as is the French Braid. For a more casual environment, a simple chignon or long ponytail (with the ends neatly curled) will give you the feminine look without a lot of fussiness.
See also:
First impressions
Corporate hairstyles
How to pass a hair salon job interview
Hairstyle for a beauty job interview