The annual Academic Job Conference of Doom fast approaches (this is my second year preparing for it), and yesterday I had a dress-rehearsal practice interview with my advisor and another professor. This gave me an opportunity to test my interview makeup as well as my answers to questions like “But Machiavelli and Polydore Vergil are very different historians; why did you mention them in the same sentence?” I’ve written before about makeup in academia, and I still think there’s a widespread prejudice against women who put obvious effort into their appearance. I know about the studies showing that women who wear neutral makeup come off as more competent in the workplace than women who wear no makeup at all, but I’m not sure that rule applies in academia, where both men and women often assume a negative correlation between femininity and intellectual seriousness.
But I also don’t see the point in angsting over this until I get a job, you know? This isn’t exactly the hill I want to die on, at least not yet. The job market in the humanities is horrible and I’d like to maximize my chances of making a living wage next year, thx. I’m not going to show up barefaced to an interview, but I’m not going to wear purple lipstick and my most metallic highlighter, either. I actually enjoy the challenge of making myself up for a specific role: in this case, the role of unimpeachably professional and competent young scholar. When putting on my job-market game face, I have three major concerns:
- Appearance. I don’t want my makeup to distract my interviewers from my answers, so I’m going for an overall effect instead of spotlighting one feature or product. However, I have high-contrast, cool-toned coloring that doesn’t do well with toned-down shades all over. (See Kate’s great post on “the workplace conundrum” for more on this issue.) A pale pink-brown lipstick will make me look washed-out and mousy; I need eye and lip colors that are neutral but saturated. (I realize, by the way, that many academics are completely oblivious to visual cues and won’t notice any makeup short of glittery teal eyeshadow and black lipstick. Still.)
- Comfort. I’d advise anyone preparing for an academic interview to stick to their usual level of made-up-ness. If you never wear makeup, the morning of your interview is not the time to start experimenting with eyeliner. Likewise, if you wear a full face every day, stripping it down for the interview will make you feel exposed and uneasy. I’d recommend tweaking the colors and finishes of your makeup instead of the amount. I’d also err on the side of simplicity: last year, my hands were shaking so badly before my interview that I could barely blend my eyeshadow. The look below contains three eyeshadows and an eyeliner, but I recognize that this may be ambitious.
- Performance. This applies to lipstick more than anything else. An interview lipstick needs to stand up to an hour of talking. If it fades, it should fade gracefully, without leaving that awful ring around the lips. A liquid matte lipstick might seem like the obvious solution, but I suspect that the ultra-flat texture, even in a neutral color, could read as odd or unprofessional to some old-fashioned types. I wouldn’t recommend a shiny or glossy finish, either. A matte or semi-matte bullet lipstick strikes me as the best choice.
For yesterday’s look, I used my everyday base makeup, eyebrow goo, and mascara, plus this color makeup:
|Clockwise from top left: Urban Decay Naked2 Basics palette, UD 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Whiskey, Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry, Seventeen Eyeshadow Mono in Statuesque, ColourPop Super Shock Cheek in Lunch Money, UD Afterglow Blush in Rapture.|
After putting down a layer of Urban Decay Primer Potion, I applied Seventeen Statuesque to the inner 2/3 of my upper lids and Urban Decay Primal to the outer third, then blended Urban Decay Cover into the crease, up to the browbone, and along the lower lashline, and tightlined with UD Whiskey eyeliner. I applied a very small amount of ColourPop Lunch Money highlighter, but might not use it at all for the actual interview. My interview lipstick last year was Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Rapture, but this year I went for Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry, which is more matte (hence longer-lasting) and a bit darker. The final look wasn’t much different from my usual makeup, honestly:
|Ignore the Bernie-esque lint on my dress.|
I feel weird about wearing warm eyeshadow with silver earrings, but that’s just a brain problem, right?
I was happy with how this turned out (less happy with my performance at the practice interview, but I guess that’s why you practice), but let me know if you have any suggestions!
Also! My boyfriend’s parents were kind enough to give me a $35 Sephora gift card as a holiday present. I’m thinking of using it toward the Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance palette, which I’ve been coveting on and off for months, but I’m not sure I can trust myself to use a 14-shadow palette when most of my eye “looks” feature one or two shadows. And I worry that the color scheme might be too warm for my complexion and/or go out of style within a year. Thoughts?