Does Fingernail Polish Matter in an Interview?

Your choice of nail polish might affect your job chances.
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You spend several hours, and possibly days, preparing for your interview, rehearsing answers to typical interview questions, choosing the right ensemble and tweaking your resume for that all-important meeting with the hiring manager. But don't overlook the detail that could cost you a job offer -- your fingernails and your choice of nail polish. The work environment, type of position and policy regulations should influence your choice of what fingernail polish you should wear to your interview, if any.


    Fingernail polish matters, but the condition of your nails can be the deal-breaker concerning your appearance during an interview. Even if you don't wear clear or tinted nail polish, get a manicure or do your own a day or so before your interview, so you make a good impression. Neatly trimmed nails, buffed to a gloss and minus ragged cuticles show that you pay attention to details. And the interviewer will look at your overall appearance, so you can't conceal your hands and nails.

Traditional Fields

    Depending on the type of job you're interviewing for, the color of your fingernail polish could matter. For example, if you're interviewing for a position in a conservative workplace, such as a law firm or accounting practice, dragon-red fingernails or alternating blue and green shades on each nail probably won't project the professional image the hiring manager is seeking. Neutral shades, such as a beige or soft pink, are sedate enough to let the interviewer focus on your qualifications instead of wondering, "What on Earth made her choose that shade of nail polish?"

High-Fashion and Cosmetology

    Fingernail polish trends, such as unusual colors, stripes, ombre shades and embellishments like tiny pearls and glitter are fine -- maybe even preferred -- if you're interviewing for a job where you're expected to replicate those looks for clients. For example, if you're interviewing for a position with a salon that has some of the most up-to-the-minute nail technicians who can produce eye-catching and intricate designs, then by all means, show evidence of your talent and style. Katherine Stahl, owner of Kansas City, Missouri-based Symmetry Salon, says people in creative fields can pull off the more trendy colors and nail fashions. Stahl hires nail technicians whose specialties run the gamut from conservative to edgy. But she cautions candidates who wear out-of-the-box fingernail polish shades and fashions for corporate job interviews as being perceived as a "wild card" and perhaps not as reliable as someone who uses good judgment about the details for her interview attire.


    Always adhere to safety and health standards when you're interviewing for a job in the health care industry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues guidelines for health care workers involved in direct patient care. Nurses, in particular, may not wear nail polish that is chipped because it can compromise patient safety. Nor can they wear artificial nails because of the microorganisms that can infect patients or contaminate a sterile environment. When you're interviewing for a job in this field, make sure your fingernail polish conforms to health standards so that you demonstrate your knowledge of safety considerations.

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