Working for the Top Makeup Brands—How to Get In! - QC Makeup Academy

Have you been dreaming of working for MAC, Sephora or one of the other top makeup brands? I get it! Who doesn’t want to get paid to play with makeup?

Since these positions are in high-demand, we’ve put together a guide to give you a leg-up on your competition when it comes to landing your dream job! It may seem like a lot of preparation and planning, but this is a competitive industry. You’ll need to be driven and committed since the hiring process can be time-consuming (typically 3-4 weeks) and we want to you to be ready for each stage!


Get the Inside Scoop

There are tons of online discussion threads from brand employees busting with tips for getting your foot in the door. A quick Google search is all it takes to find a few recent threads. Read them through and learn from those who’ve succeeded at getting the job you want!

qc makeup academy makeup artistry application

Take a Page from James Bond

You’ll want to make time to visit a few different retail locations for your brand of choice. If there’s a bench outside the store, take a seat and simply observe the atmosphere but try to remain incognito. Make note of how the employees present themselves. Do they have similar hairstyles? What are the uniforms or brand colors? Pay careful attention to the type of makeup they are wearing. This information will be incredibly valuable for making a good impression when it’s time to drop off your resume or go for an interview.

Familiarize Yourself with the Products

Being able to demonstrate product knowledge will definitely make you a more appealing candidate. Sure, if you are hired you’ll go through brand-training but with so many applicants to interview, managers will be on the lookout for a sure thing! Getting to know the brand’s products will help you dazzle the hiring manager! Your pre-existing knowledge of the products shows you are both trainable and passionate about the brand—a win-win!

Keep up with Current Makeup Trends

You can start by Googling makeup trends for the current and upcoming seasons. You’ll want to look for trends specifically related to the brand you’re hoping to work for too. Aside from Google searches, here are some specific resources to check out:

  • Look for MAC Trend Reports
  • Visit MAC and Sephora’s YouTube Channels (and do a quick search for makeup correspondents or ambassadors for the brand!)
  • Check out makeup bloggers obsessed with MAC like “The Makeup and Beauty Blog
  • Read through the latest entries in Sephora’s blog, “Beauty Talk”.

makeup artistry trends

First Impressions:


You’ll want to make sure you make an excellent impression when you are dropping off your resume. Even if the hiring manager isn’t present and you leave your resume with a store employee, don’t undervalue the importance of how you present yourself. Employees are often instructed to code resumes or make notes of their initial impressions for the hiring manager. A good first impression will help your resume make the short list!

Professional Resume

Tailor your resume for the job you are applying for. When it comes to working for MAC, Sephora or other top makeup brands, hiring managers will be on the lookout for previous retail experience, customer service skills and a background in (or passion for!) makeup.

Be sure to proofread your resume! Rope in a friend or family member to do a once over as well. A resume riddled with errors or weird formatting makes a bad impression. It makes the applicant look unprepared or as though they aren’t serious about the job. It’s also very distracting to the reader, who will tend to focus more on the errors than the content of your resume.

Need help crafting the perfect resume? Check out this free download from QC Makeup Academy!


job interview black outfit

Arrive Early

Your first opportunity for showing the hiring manager you are an eager, punctual and reliable candidate is the interview. Don’t be late or show up right on the button! You’ll want to get there early but keep in mind that managers are often on a strict schedule so being too early can be an inconvenience. Aim to arrive 5-10 minutes early.

Bring Your Portfolio

While you may not be asked for it, you should definitely bring your portfolio to your interview just in case. It’s a great tool for showcasing your makeup background and skills. If your portfolio is still in progress, check out our tips below for building a polished portfolio!

Dress to Impress

Your earlier reconnaissance at MAC or Sephora will pay off when deciding how to present yourself for the job interview. I’d recommend dressing in the brand colors or similar to the uniforms to show you’re able to fit into the store culture seamlessly. For both MAC and Sephora, black will be your color of choice!

When deciding the makeup look you’ll go with, think back to the store employees you observed. You’ll want to choose a look that shows off your application skills but stays within the boundaries of what you’ve seen in-store.

Prepare for Typical Interview Questions

preparing for a job interviewHave a few answers to typical interview questions ready to roll so you’re not pausing or trying to buy time while you think of an answer on the spot. Be careful not to sound too rehearsed though, keep it natural! Here are some typical interview questions that interviewees struggle with:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Why do you think you would do well at this job?
  • Give me an example of a time you had to deal with a difficult customer. How did you resolve it?

There are tons of online resources to help you develop the best answers to these questions and prepare for other common interview questions so I’d encourage you to spend some time on this!

Group Interviews

You may have to go through a first round of group interviews before being called back for a one-on-one. Group interviews add a layer of complexity since you’ll need to get noticed in order to get called back. Be careful not to overstep the boundary between standing out and coming across like an attention hog!

  • Tip 1: You’ll want to project confidence so have good posture, speak in a clear voice and make eye contact with everyone in the group at some point. It demonstrates leadership to include your fellow interviewees by directing your attention towards the room rather than on the interviewer.
  • Tip 2: You’ll want to separate yourself from the pack. If the interviewer is asking you to name your greatest achievement, try not to give an answer that’s the same as everyone else in the room. Think of something unique so you’ll be memorable.

The Makeup Trial:

qc makeup academy

Choosing Your Model

A lot of the top makeup brands will have you complete a makeup trial at some point during the hiring process. You will need a reliable model to bring with you so keep that in mind when you ask for volunteers. If your best friend is renowned for always being 15 minutes late you should probably ask someone else!

You’ll also want to make sure your model is comfortable with role playing since you’ll have to pretend she’s a customer during the trial. Pick someone who is outgoing and comfortable being the center of attention. Shy people tend to flush and go red in the face in uncomfortable situations which will complicate and distract from your makeup application.

Practice Makes Perfect

This is where your preparation starts to pay off. Being familiar with the brand products, you can choose a few of your favorites to focus on. Practice with your chosen model at home so you can work out the kinks ahead of time rather than winging it on the day of the trial. You’ll typically be asked to apply several looks so plan ahead.

Don’t forget that this trial isn’t just about your makeup skills. It’s also your opportunity to give a live demonstration of your customer service and sales skills which are equally important for landing the job. If you’re not sure where to start, it may be helpful to get a makeup demo from a rep at an unrelated cosmetic counter to see how a seasoned pro does it.


makeup application practice

It may not always be possible to follow-up after an interview since hiring managers are notoriously difficult to get a hold of. However, if you have been given a business card for the interviewer that has an email address, you should send a thank-you email within 24-hours of the interview.

Keep it short and sweet. Thank them for taking the time to meet with you. Let them know you really enjoyed meeting them and look forward to hearing from them soon. Sign off with your full name as it appeared on your resume and include your phone number as well. A simple follow-up can make all the difference!

If any readers have first-hand experience working with or interviewing for top makeup brands, please leave a comment to chime-in!

Check out our “How to Get a Job as a MAC Makeup Artist” video for even more advice!

Author Ana Scholtes

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