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Does Hairstyle Matter in an Interview? How to Style Hair for a Job Interview

Black girl in a business suit preparing for a job interview with long hair in a curly hairstyle

Did you get an interview for your dream job? We’ll bet you want to make the best possible impression.

Although your hairstyle has nothing to do with your job abilities, jobseekers often spend an excessive amount of time contemplating what hairstyle to wear for their interview. But, does hairstyle matter in an interview? That’s what we’ll be exploring in this article. 

Does Hairstyle Matter in an Interview?

The truth is that your hairstyle does matter in an interview. Others’ perception of you is shaped not only by your past accomplishments and answers to interview questions, but it’s also driven by how you look – whether you’re wearing formal clothes and how your hair is styled.

If an interviewer perceives your hairstyle as rebellious or unprofessional, it could be held against you.

This isn’t to say that you won’t get the job because you wear your hair in a particular style. But if you don’t look put together (i.e., a professional look), your first impression could be ruined. 

African American female with medium length hair wearing a blue suit with a neat and classic finish

Hairstyles Perceived to Be Unprofessional

No style is guaranteed to be perceived as unprofessional. That’s because everyone has a different set of beliefs regarding what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Here are some hairstyles that some corporate workers would see as unprofessional:

  • Hairstyles with excessive height – Any hairstyle that makes you more than a few inches taller could stand out in the wrong way. 
  • Colorful hairstyles – Neon highlights, rainbow dye jobs, or other potentially distracting hairstyles can be off-putting to interviewers.
  • Afro hair or braids – Any styles featuring a big fro or braids may be considered negative by interviewers, which is unfortunate. Some believe that this could be rooted in racism, considering that most Black people’s hair grows from their scalp in an afro texture. 

Let it be known that we don’t think that any of these hairstyles should affect your perceived professional aptitude. But we live in the real world, and many find these hairstyles unprofessional. 

Should You Worry About Your Hair? 

Cute young woman with short hair in a pineapple half-pony hairstyle

If you want a particular job, you may be tempted to straighten out your curls or hide them. However, we encourage you to wear your hair however you feel comfortable wearing it, as long as the style is not distracting.

You don’t want your interviewer to be so mesmerized by your hair that they have trouble focusing on what you’re saying. 

To tackle those interview questions like a champ, you’ll need to feel comfortable with who you are. Moreover, conforming to oppressive ideals only perpetuates them.

Hairstyles to Stay Away From 

With all of that being said, some hairstyles can make you look unkempt. Looking scruffy is never a good idea when trying to land a new job. Below are some hairstyles you should avoid wearing to an interview. 

Any Style You Haven’t Mastered

If you’re new to twist-outs or wash-and-go styles, it would be wise not to experiment with those styles on your interview day. A parched out-of-whack wash and go never looked good on anyone.

It could end up being more of a distraction than anything, and it could even make you feel self-conscious, which would hinder your interview performance. 

Black lady with polished look with shoulder-length hair in a curly hairstyle

Twist Outs and Braid Outs

You may be thinking, “why shouldn’t I showcase my natural texture?” There’s a good reason. Since Black women’s hair texture is not as common as other textures, twist-outs and braid-outs could make more of a statement than you intended.

When that happens, your interview could take a turn for the worse, where it focuses on your hair rather than your talent. 

Cotton Candy Pink, Baby Blue, or Fire Engine Red Hair

The color of your hair matters in an interview. Walking in with super bright hair can immediately make you seem like you’re not serious about the opportunity, regardless of your true intentions.

So, we recommend that you do yourself a favor and save the fun hair dye jobs until after you’ve landed the job. 

Professional African American woman wearing her hair upwards in a simple hairstyle

Are Box Braids Unprofessional?

The question “are box braids unprofessional?” will elicit different responses depending on who you ask. Some people who are unaware of the cultural significance of braids immediately write them off as unprofessional.

Others who are more open to other cultures may not see them that way. We do not think that braids are inherently unprofessional, but the reality is that you don’t know your interviewer’s background, so staying away from box braids is the safest bet.

If you want to give them a try after you’re hired, we say go for it! 

How to Style Curly Hair for an Interview: The Best Job Interview Hairstyles

If you’re having trouble choosing a hairstyle for your interview, we recommend that you default to any of the below hairstyles. Each of them will have you looking authentically natural without distracting from what you could bring to the company. 

Low Bun

Slick Low Bun Natural Curly Hair + Edges Tutorial | LexiVee03

A low bun is a quick and easy style that’s considered professional by most employers. You shouldn’t have any issues at your interview if you go with this style. Just make sure that you use a bit of gel or edge control around your hairline so that it looks polished. 

Two French Braids into a Bun

Two Braids into a Low Braided Bun || Protective Hairstyle

Two french braids into a bun create the same professional updo silhouette as the low bun. Just part your hair in half, create two cornrows toward the back, and then gather the tails into a bun. You’ll look put together without doing any damage to your curls. 

Chignon

Easy Curly Updo - Curly Chignon

An updo is always elegant and professional, making it an excellent choice for any formal interview. Chignons are in the same family as buns, but they’re a bit fancier and more abstract.

To get a perfect chignon, all you need to do is twist a few sections of your hair and pin them toward the back. You don’t need to straighten or chemically process your hair for this – let your natural hair give your chignon a little texture! 

Low or High Puff

Updated: High Puff Tutorial On Natural Hair

A low or high puff showcases your texture in a beautiful yet non-distracting way. This style will work for anyone with textured hair. Just be careful about how much height your puff has.

If your puff towers over others, it can steal the attention away from you. A puff takes just a few minutes, some gel, a brush, and an elastic. Try not to overdo those edges!

For Locs: We’d never leave out our loc’d sisters! All of the above styles can be done with locs. But to play it safe, retwist or interlock your locs before the interview so that they’ll look neat. Here’s a quick video on how ladies with dreads can prepare for job interviews.

Styling Locs For Business Settings/Job Interviews

Note: Some of these hairstyles will look different depending on how much hair you have. Other styles to consider are deva cut, Rezo cut, pixie cut (short haircut), low ponytail (great for long hair), high bun, high pony, curtain bangs, easy messy bun, and this article includes a great list of hairstyles for women over 50.

Some Workplaces are More Inclusive Than Others

Cute girl wearing a blue professional outfit with loose waves and curls on short hair

Not every workplace is rigid about how its employees look. Some employers, especially those whose employees won’t be making direct contact with the public, may not bat an eye if you come in with a 2-foot high afro.

But some need employees to keep up a certain aesthetic. For instance, if you want to work in a luxury boutique or wedding dress shop, it may not be appropriate to waltz in there with multicolored neon hair. 

Also, it’s important to research the company’s dress code if applicable. It is lawful for employers to draft and enforce dress codes (which include hair) as long as they are not discriminatory.

So, if you find that the company requires employees to wear their hair neatly, a bun or chignon would be a safe bet for the interview.  

We hope that this article has enlightened you on the topic of looking professional with natural hair.

We encourage you to try one of the hairstyles we’ve referenced in this article so that your hair won’t be a topic during your interview. We wish you the best and hope that you land the job of your dreams!