What's the Best Color to Wear for a Job Interview?
There are endless studies about color and the effect it has on people.
When you decorate a room, you consider if the color will make it look bigger or smaller, warm or cold.
Cultures worldwide regard different colors in different ways. Some are considered lucky, others unlucky.
The color you choose to wear to an interview conveys a message to your recruiter.
For a previous interview, you may have chosen to wear a dress or suit because of how it looks, or because it was in the sale. You were, in fact, indirectly telling your interviewer something about yourself that may or may not have been true.
This could have been a contributing factor to you getting, or not getting, that job.
Of course, it isn't as simple as finding a color that represents you and then wearing it.
You also need to consider:
- The role you are interviewing for
- The culture of the organization
- Your skin tone
Red, for example, sends a message of power. While you may feel that this color best represents you, it isn't the ideal message if you are interviewing for an entry-level position.
You also don't want to send a bold message if the place you want to work has a very strict hierarchy.
And you certainly don't want to wear red if it doesn't suit your skin tone.
Finding a color that not only suits you but sends the right message is something you may not have considered before.
However, after you've found which colors work, you may be surprised at the results.
Knowing which colors suit you and which ones work well for interviews will help you to stand out for all the right reasons:
- It shows attention to detail
- It tells the interviewer that you take care of yourself and your image
- It indicates self-awareness
- It lets the interviewer know that you can be trusted as an ambassador for the organization
Various surveys have been carried out to determine which colors work well for interviews and which don't.
Black is the easiest color to wear and is favored by many, not only for interviews but life in general.
This color evokes a feeling of leadership.
Think about Chanel and YSL using black as their trademark colors to establish themselves as leaders in women’s fashion.
Sometimes, black can come across as standoffish or unapproachable, but when styled correctly, it can look sophisticated and elegant.
Blue gives the impression that you are a team player. It also inspires confidence and shows stability and harmony.
Studies have shown that you are more likely to get the job if you wear blue to your interview.
The shade of blue you wear depends on your skin tone. Some people suit navy blue, while others look better in royal blue.
As blue is a color with proven success, take the time to find a shade that works for you.
Gray can sometimes be considered a lonely color. However, it also demonstrates individuality and self-sufficiency and is a winning color in interviews.
It is best to mix gray with another color, like a white blouse.
Gray is also associated with rain and gloomy days, so it is best to brighten it up if you can.
Wearing white to an interview is a very bold statement.
It tells your interviewer that you are incredibly brave and well organized. Not many people can wear all white and stay stain-free.
Experts recommend wearing white or beige for group interviews, where the most popular color is likely to be blue or black.
Orange is the one color that topped every survey as being the most inappropriate for an interview.
While the color is often associated with creativity, it is a loud color that sends a message of unprofessionalism and chaos.
It is also the color worn in prisons.
These three colors all show that you are a creative person, but they are reported not to inspire trust.
Clothes in these colors are designed to attract attention, which comes across negatively in an interview.
These shades are better suited for social gatherings or meetings, once you have gotten to know your colleagues.
Brown was once considered an ideal interview color as it sends a message of warmth and dependability.
Nowadays, with innovation being at the top of every organization's list of priorities, brown is sending a different message.
It tells employers that you are old-fashioned and do not possess the creative qualities to help with innovation. It also suggests that you are resistant to change, which isn’t ideal when one of the top soft skills that today’s employers are looking for is flexibility.
Wearing a combination of bright colors or patterns sends a message of chaos and a need for attention.
It tells the recruiter that your life is disorganized and that you are likely to be forgetful. It is also incredibly distracting for the person interviewing you.
If you want to wear a print to an interview, keep it simple with black-and-white polka dots or a stripy tie.
Red is a very bold color that sends a message of energy and confidence. It takes a powerful person to wear red, which is why it doesn't always send the right message in an interview.
If your interviewer is not a fan of red, it tells them that you want attention, that you like to stand out and that you may have a problem with authority.
Keep this color for CEO-level interviews, or wear it in small quantities such as a belt or nail polish.
A common question is whether all black is acceptable for an interview.
On the one hand, wearing all black is a safe option, but it can also come across as too serious. Depending on how you style your outfit, you risk looking like you're going to a funeral.
Alternatively, all black can look incredibly elegant.
If you are someone who prefers black, a recommendation would be to mix and match it with some other colors:
- A black pant or skirt suit could be matched with a white or royal-blue blouse.
- A black dress could be styled with a red waist belt or a white blazer.
- Or you could opt for nude stockings instead of black to break up the color.
When it comes to deciding which colors are right for you, consider the following:
Your skin tone – There is a shade of every color for everyone. If navy blue makes you look too washed out, then try other shades of blue. There is no specific hue that works, so don't think you need to stick to one particular gray when it comes to interviews. C Color has a wonderful tool that helps you find all your ideal shades. There are also a host of personal shoppers that can guide you in the right direction. Color experts specialize in matching shades and patterns to people's looks and personalities.
Use fashion campaigns as inspiration – Power dressing has been part of fashion for decades. Use sites like Pinterest to find adverts for classic outfits that you can adapt for your interview. YSL's cigarette trousers never go out of style. Could that all-black look work as inspiration for your interview?
Experiment and try clothes on – If a color expert or personal shopper is out of your budget, spend a weekend or two trying on all types of clothes and colors. Take a friend with you for a second opinion and get to know what works and what doesn't.
Do some research – What colors are current employees wearing? Are they more formal, or do some people experiment with colors, fabrics and styles? Without being too obvious, try to find out what your potential colleagues wear over a week.
The same color advice applies to men just as for women. The messages that colors send are the same for both sexes.
However, when it comes to interview outfits for men, there are fewer options and fewer opportunities to work with color.
A male is unlikely to wear a red button-down or colored trousers to an interview and will often play it safe with more neutral colors.
When it comes to deciding what color tie is best for an interview, you can experiment with simple designs or different block colors.
It is not unusual to see a pale-pink tie with a charcoal-gray suit. Just remember to avoid green and orange.
When deciding the best color to wear to an interview, it all comes down to what you feel comfortable in and the role you are interviewing for.
Creative roles and smaller organizations usually allow for more color and playful options. In some cases, they may welcome a more personalized outfit, as it shows you know yourself and aren't afraid to express yourself.
In comparison, institutes such as law firms, banks and corporate organizations find traditional block colors more appropriate. Likewise, in male-dominated industries, you may feel more comfortable in staple colors such as navy blue and black.
Outside of interview formalities, wearing colors that suit you enhances your features and gives you more confidence. Take the time to figure out what works for you.
You want to stand out for all the right reasons.