Because first impressions are everything, take note of these best colors to wear to a job interview.
Congratulations on securing a job interview; that's a big step toward securing the job itself!
Once you sort out the logistics of the actual interview and practiced, it's time to figure out what you're going to wear. You probably have a vague idea in mind. But did you know that the color you choose to wear to your interview matters, too?
It's not just about making a decision between blazer or no blazer, tie or no tie, chunky necklace or no chunky necklace. The color you choose to wear can have a powerful effect on an interviewer's first impression of you.
For example, some colors might convey professionalism, dependability, or a sense of authoritativeness. Other colors might convey something more negative, like immaturity or laziness.
Additionally, some colors work better for certain career types, according to Cornell University's career center. For example, if you're interviewing for a more traditional job in law, business, or banking, stick to neutral colors. If you're interviewing in a more creative field, express yourself with a pop of green, purple, or yellow.
Each color can elicit a different feeling or impression, which we know thanks to color psychology. The human brain is crazy, right? Without further ado, here are the four best colors to wear to a job interview — and the four to avoid.
1. Wear: Blue
Many experts agree that blue is one of the best colors to wear for an interview. In fact, job-search website CareerBuilder hosted a study of 2,099 hiring managers and HR professionals, and blue was the most recommended interview outfit color. Respondents reported associating the color with someone who's a team player. Cornell University's career center also says the color “implies that you are trustworthy, honest, and credible.”
Now the question becomes: What shade of blue? That doesn't really matter — as long as it's not blindingly bright. Navy is a classic, of course, and a light, muted blue can be nice when paired with black or navy slacks. But be careful: Sometimes muted colors can cause you to come off as passive, according to Cornell's career center.
2. Wear: Black
Black is a classic color, and it ranked second on CareerBuilder's survey. Interviewers and recruiters most often associate it with leadership, while Cornell's career center says it alludes to strength, authority, having leadership abilities, and timeliness. However, because black is such a powerful color, wear it to interviews only when appropriate.
“As a high-powered color, save it for high-powered interviews,” reports fashion brand Who What Wear. “Because black can come off as powerful and aloof, it's ideal for top jobs and managerial positions, but it's not great if you're applying for something in customer service, retail, or anything entry-level.”
3. Wear: Gray
Once again, gray is a great neutral color to wear for job interviews. It can portray you as a logical and analytical professional.
Just one quick tip: If you have a tendency to sweat when you get nervous (no judgment), gray might not be the best color to wear on your big day. Sure, you can wear charcoal pants or blazer, but avoid wearing a gray blouse or button-down since it'll show sweat.
4. Wear: White
Honestly, interviewees can't go wrong with white. Pair a white shirt or blouse with some navy or gray slacks, and you're good to go. The brain sees white as a pure color and indicative of someone who's organized, detail oriented, and clean.
Plus, it's easy to match — and even accessorize with a pop of color. “Essentially, go for the classics and add a bit of personality by throwing on fun and colorful accessories such as socks, necklaces, and ties,” suggests Cornell's career center.
5. Avoid: Orange
Orange topped CareerBuilder's list of worst interview colors. Why? Survey respondents said they often associate it with someone who's unprofessional.
Sure, respondents also said they associate orange with someone who's more creative, but it's better to avoid orange and come off as more professional and dependable, no matter your career path.
6. Avoid: Brown
Brown doesn't give off the best vibe when it comes to job interviews either. Fast Company interviewed image and style expert Carol Davidson who said the color does have some positive attributes; it can come off as comforting and reliable. “But in an industry that is fast-paced and innovative, it may give the impression you're staid and passive,” she said.
Cornell's career site also says brown implies you are “boring, simple, and slow to change.”
7. Avoid: Multi-colors
Think: Patterns. Bold patterns are fun, yes, but they tend to be distracting. Purple paisley doesn't exactly scream “Look at me! Look how professional I am!” After all, the interviewer should be focused on you — not your bold sense of fashion.
There's nothing wrong with a black-and-white polka dot blouse paired with a blazer or a blue pinstripe dress shirt. Just be careful with too many colors and patterns; if they get out of hand, these can distract the interviewer.
8. Avoid: Red
In some cases, red works for interviews — but you have to be careful. Wearing red can portray you as powerful, according to the CareerBuilder survey. However, because it is such a high-power and high-energy color, it can become a bit jarring and overtake a room.
“Red can send less favorable messages about the candidate — that he or she is domineering, rebellious, and obstinate, for example,” Davidson told Fast Company. “There is a fine line between assertive and aggressive, and red is a risky choice for an interview.”
Rather than going all out with a red jacket, dress or blouse, consider using red as an accent color. There's nothing wrong with a red tie or a red handkerchief for a pop of color.
Final thoughts: When in doubt, play it safe
Like it or not, the colors you choose to wear to your interview will reflect who you are and the qualities you bring to the table. So, when you're left wondering what color to wear to an interview, it's best to play it safe. No, you don't have to wear the most boring outfit in the world. You can still express your personality, just do so more subtly with accessories.
Cornell's career center concludes its analysis with this message: “Have your wardrobe reiterate the qualities you're trying to showcase in your interview ... Not only will you have a leg up on the competition, but your confidence will go through the roof.”
Before you pick out your interview attire, make sure that you're ready to ace the interview. Our TopInterview coaches can help!