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Top 5 Best Nail Polishes for Interviews

Top 5 Best Nail Polish Colors for Interviews - Neutral Nude, Light Pink, Sheer White, Power Red, Clear Coat

Throughout law school, I’ve experienced quite a few job interviews and informational interview meetings.  In fact, I am excited because this whole week I am preparing for several interviews (fingers crossed!).  Between doing research, practicing responses, and identifying the “one and only greatest weakness,” I have to pay attention at how I present myself.  While interviews are somewhat stressful, I always feel more confident when I know I’m not guilty of any style faux-pas.  Prospective employers do pay attention to every little detail and expect a candidate with an impeccable presentation and excellent skills.  Just as an anecdote, one of my supervisors was definitely not impressed when an interviewee showed up sporting green nail polish and when another was wearing acrylic purple nails.

UPDATE: This post has been one of our most popular and has received a lot of comments and feedback. Since I wrote this post in 2013, I have graduated law school, passed the bar exam, and am now working full time as an attorney (where I am now involved in hiring interviews). My advice in this post remains unchanged - for interviews, candidates must present themselves in a certain manner and that includes what nail polish you wear (when you are especially interviewing for a formal position in a conservative environment, steer clear of nail polish faux pas).  Read the comments for more information and discussion and feel free to contact me!

Interview Nail Polish - Advice Do’s and Don’ts

For this post, I picked the top five colors that I find are appropriate for a conservative interview.  I’m also including some “do’s” and “don’ts” based on my experience and feedback from employers.

Do wear clean cut nails and don’t have a distracting nail shape or overly long nails (pointy talons look better in editorials anyway).

Do try different colors to see what best suits your skin tone.

Don’t pick bright colors that distract from your actual interview and your responses - nails should look put together without saying “look, I did my nails!”

Don’t wear an accent nail or nail art of any kind.

Do pick a sheer nail polish where you can built opacity with no streaks - sheers also help with application because you can never make a mistake (the polishes in this post are easy to apply for anyone and will look neat).

Do choose a nail polish that is of high quality and will not chip (we know how crazy interview time can get) - also, don’t go to an interview with chipped nail polish.

Do wear a classic statement red color that is not too bright, too dark, or too orange (has to be just right!).  You may want to save this color for an informational interview - if in doubt, opt for  neutral or lighter polish.

Do pick the most neutral and natural shade if you have any doubt on what color to choose.

Don’t wear textured nail polish or nail polish with a glitter or pearl finish (trends are best displayed outside the interview room).

Do wear a long lasting clear top coat if you are not comfortable wearing a nail polish color - the top coat will make your nails look shiny and clean (and put together).

Do be confident during your interview! Good luck!

Just like every font and line arrangement on a resume, paying attention to small details can help you look more presentable or just make you feel more relaxed. Let me know you if have any questions on preparing for interviews or any additional advice (I’ll add it to the post or the interview suit post)!

Stay Pretty, Miranda M.
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08304417585518007402 Christian

    Help post ^^ May I ask if red would be a little outstanding and distract the interviewer?

    • http://prettysquared.com/ Pretty Squared

      Hi Christian, thank you for reaching out (I apologize for the delay in answering, we’ve had major issues with Disqus). I think red can be appropriate but because it could also be distracting, I recommend playing it safe and picking a neutral or nude color. Goodluck with the interview!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06449222415294733875 Joe Quer

    Honestly, I think you are exaggerating. If managers or job superior are dumb enough to not pick someone because of a nail color than there are not worth working for. As long as the person looks clean ( white teeth, smile enthousiastic and good clean professional clothes, the nail color shouldn’t matter. There are purple colors that look very professional and classy. If you stop yourself from adding colors to this world than you will never have fun at your job. Be yourself and if you fail a job interview for that reason than they are the idiots not you. You don’t judge a persone by their nail color. There are doctors who are administrating hospitals and I know do wear whatever nail color they want. If you wanna look bland and boring like all the other suckers at your boring office you will spend all your life working hard, stressing at without wearing your own colors than you are in the lost. Don’t live for others, be yourself.

    • http://prettysquared.com/ Pretty Squared

      Hi Joe, I agree to an extent but I also disagree to an extent. Yes, nail color should not matter for employers and a person should express his/her individuality. But unfortunately, for women that are headed to an interview, worrying about nail color is a reality. In a career as conservative as law where law firms require a certain dress code to meet with clients, it is not unexpected to have manicure expectations. I have now passed the bar, worked for private firms and for the public sector, and this post message still stands - employers pay attention to the smallest details and that includes your nail color. Just as an example, I had a meeting recently (as in a week ago) and as we were walking away, two individuals commented about someone’s nail color. It’s not an exaggeration, people take notice.

      I agree that once you get a job and you have a feel about the environment, then you can comfortably make decisions. I’ve now worn purple and grey and blue at my current job because I know my work environment. As a fun last example, research the dress code guidelines for federal court and a few even mention what color shirt is required.

      I do agree about the last sentence, it’s a great motto to live by.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01436494875420296566 Karrin Rutledge

    Love the way this is designed. However, I know you mentioned to see what best suits our skin tones, but I wish there were some recommendations for people with darker skin. Most of these would stand out in stark contrast to darker skin tones and wouldn’t be too interview friendly :/

    • http://prettysquared.com/ Pretty Squared

      hi Karrin! Thank you so much for your feedback (and I apologize in advance for the delayed reply as we’ve had major issues with our commenting platform). I’m now going through some shades and have also asked a few blogger friends for suggestions - I will definitely be sure to add more exact polish recommendations. Thank you again, your comment is invaluable and very helpful to future interviewees.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01436494875420296566 Karrin Rutledge

    Love the way this is designed. However, I know you mentioned to see what best suits our skin tones, but I wish there were some recommendations for people with darker skin. Most of these would stand out in stark contrast to darker skin tones and wouldn’t be too interview friendly :/

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17954401385021005375 Marley

    This is awesome! getting my nails done this week for interviews soon. Thank you!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05624164022153103938 G0ddess0fzz

    What’s your take on matte nails in the workplace?

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01096905878778239160 Miranda M.

      I’m inclined to say it’s fine on a light polish base, but I’m concerned it may look too “trendy.” I wouldn’t recommend it for red or any dark colors because then it is too obvious (it reminds me of nail art a bit). If you think it would be distracting, so if I would say “oh wow your nails are matte” then I think it’s probably too much.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05624164022153103938 G0ddess0fzz

    When is a nail too long?

    I’m worried about having the appearance of nails that are too long… I have long nail beds and nail beds to the very tip. As a result, a slight mani length and they look like acrylics. I get comments asking if they are acrylics. I wonder if it’s too long and unprofessional? They honestly look like them full-size acrylics people wear. :(

    Second, in terms of color, I wore a gold coin by Revlon to a casual work day. Boy, was that a mistake. I loved how it stayed without chipping and was so durable, but too flashy. I’m sure I lost a few brownie points for that! I have yet to find a nail color that works at General Electric since most of my female coworkers don’t even use a clear coat.

    I have yet to perfect the french mani at home… I think I’ll have to go buy some pink and white nail polish and give it another go. For a french mani, what nail polish would you recommend that looks professional and natural? My last french at home mani had the white too bright… Honestly, it looked like white-out. Ouch.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01096905878778239160 Miranda M.

      These are great questions G0ddess0fzz! I’m thinking of creating a second post addressing these issues.

      If your natural nails are naturally long, I wouldn’t worry about it, natural is good. You could do some small tricks to shorten the appearance of nails, but you shouldn’t have to compromise your natural look for others. If you wear polish, you could start a bit lower than your cuticles, to create a shortening effect. Also, if you think length is an issue, be sure that your nails are always cut really close (and you do not allow your nails to grow too long). French manicure could also shorten your nails because you could give the illusion of tips when in fact, it sits on your natural nail bed.

      Oh, the white out look, I’m guilty of it! I actually now use Essie Marshmallow or Essie Waltz, those are jelly, slightly sheer whites that you can build up and don’t look so stark. I use stickers or tape to “cheat” and create a clean french manicure look, it does take some practice.

      As for the gold Revlon color, I took a look at swatches and it almost looks like a shiny white so I don’t see it as big of a transgression (and it was casual day, come on! haha). It does depend on the work space though, in law firms or legal work environments, there’s a strong conservative streak for attire so that’s why I recommend light pinks or whites.

      Thank you again for your comments, I’ll be sure to work on a new blog post to address some of these questions!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05624164022153103938 G0ddess0fzz

    What is a nail that is too long? My nails naturally extend to the tip and a bit over, so when I let it go a bit out, I’m worried about it being “unprofessional”.

    Also, in terms of color, I thought to go with a slight metallic-y nude (not for an interview) and what a poor choice! With long nail bed and the revlon gold coin, it looks tacky. Luckily, my coworkers are not complaining but I know I lost a few brownie points for that.

    Thanks for the post. I love how long lasting and durable the gold coin is though. I have yet to find another color that even when slightly chipped is not noticeable (doesn’t chip much).

    I tried french mani at home = poor results. I have yet to find a method that works. I think I’ll go and try it again. I love the look of a french mani since it’s so professional.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05624164022153103938 G0ddess0fzz

    What is a nail that is too long? My nails naturally extend to the tip and a bit over, so when I let it go a bit out, I’m worried about it being “unprofessional”.

    Also, in terms of color, I thought to go with a slight metallic-y nude (not for an interview) and what a poor choice! With long nail bed and the revlon gold coin, it looks tacky. Luckily, my coworkers are not complaining but I know I lost a few brownie points for that.

    Thanks for the post. I love how long lasting and durable the gold coin is though. I have yet to find another color that even when slightly chipped is not noticeable (doesn’t chip much).

    I tried french mani at home = poor results. I have yet to find a method that works. I think I’ll go and try it again. I love the look of a french mani since it’s so professional.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13605061497058385771 Sara Callahan

    I love Essie Spaghetti Strap. I wore that at an interview a few months ago! This is a great post!

    SaraLovesSephora.blogspot.com

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01096905878778239160 Miranda M.

      Essie has such great colors but for some reason this is my lucky color haha it’s a perfect mix between pink, rose, and white. hope the interview went well!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09775669880211082340 Olivia S

    I agree, I love essie - ballet slippers for interviews! X

    Olivia - cravemorebeauty.blogspot.com

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01096905878778239160 Miranda M.

      I’ll have to try that one too it’s such a classic! everything essie that is light and pink would work haha

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01781257603704191552 Beauty and Fashion on a College budget

    Honestly I wouldn’t even suggest wearing a red polish. One woman in an interview for an internship commented how a classic french can go a long way to me. - I was wearing a french that day.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01096905878778239160 Miranda M.

      I thought about including the french mani, it looks very clean but not sure if everyone can do it at home or get them done at the salon. thanks, I’ll add the suggestion!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16279025385488267285 Lisa (LOZLOSA)

    PS - good luck with the interviews!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16279025385488267285 Lisa (LOZLOSA)

    Super post, Miranda!!!!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01096905878778239160 Miranda M.

      thank you!! I know fingers crossed, interviews are always a good sign hehe

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06555886290978117587 Rachel Elizabeth

    I’m loving your nail polish posts this week girls! I once sat on a panel helping to interview counsellors and one woman turned up with bright pink lipstick (smeared on her teeth…how attractive!) and bright blue false nails. She didn’t get the job and I spent most of my time staring at her nails - so you’re totally right about distracting from the interview.

    Great post :)

    Rachel x
    so-she-dances.blogspot.co.uk

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01096905878778239160 Miranda M.

      well why thank you hehe! and we have more summery nail posts coming up, these lovely comments always motivate us!

      I tend to wear a tinted lip balm, this way I don’t get unsightly lines, dryness, etc. As for nails, I’ve seen similar outcomes, candidates that don’t get the job based on the little details, it makes such a difference.