Interviews can feel like an interrogation –are you saying too much or not enough? They’re stressful at best. Couple that with the knowledge that 52% of interviewers decide between 5 and 15 minutes whether you will move on or be shown the door, despite how much longer the interview lasts.
But did you know that wearing the right color can significantly improve your odds?
The color you wear sends a message to the interviewer about your character, attitude, and personality. Color conveys a level of professionalism. While blue and black are consistently the best colors to wear, orange is the worst – followed by brown.
However, choosing what color to wear is more than just a quick Google search of “the best color to wear to an interview for a female.” You need to consider what position you’re applying for, the company culture, and how you feel in the color.
Use these tips to select the best color to wear to an interview.
- Your position will help you decide what colors to wear.
If you’re applying for a managerial role, the color you choose will need to invoke a sense of authority or leadership. This same suit likely won’t make the cut to work Fashion Week in New York City.
- Corporate jobs demand corporate colors. Employ a classic, conservative look. Chose a power color that evokes authority and leadership. Minimize your jewelry and other accessories such as belts and scarves. Wear appropriate footwear. I have actually seen someone wear a suit donned with their favorite running shoes! Wearing inappropriate shoes will be noticed.
- Managerial roles, administration positions, and sales require smart colors that emit confidence. Have you ever been confronted with a saleswoman wearing red? How about your manager in orange? How did you feel? Red can be a very confrontational color. When applying for a position in one of these roles, blue is your go-to. Depending on the job, you can accessorize with brighter colors.
- Trendy, fashion, and marketing roles give you more freedom with interview clothing. Follow the general guideline – always dress at least one step up from what you would wear day-to-day. If your day-to-day outfit is jeans and a blouse, where slacks and a blouse with a jacket or even a skirt and a blouse. Interviews for a role in one of these industries allows some freedom for flair. Maybe your good-luck earrings are glass beads your best friend made while taking a glass-blowing class – wear them.
- Company culture mattes, a little.
Company culture can be a bit tricky. Even when company culture is laid back with ping pong tables and game-day Fridays, you still want to be professional in your interview. Dressing for the role is better than dressing for company culture, unless you’re 100% positive on what that culture is. Even then, I recommend dressing for the role. Add an accent to match company culture. Erring on the side of conservative is much better than wearing mala beads with your favorite Bohemian dress only to walk in and find your interviewer in a suit!
- Choose the best color for the role, company culture, and you.
You landed the interview. You’ve done your homework on company culture. Now it’s time to get dressed to nail your interview. Make sure the color you choose conveys the message you want to send as well as makes you feel good. These four colors are tried and true and just might win you a seat at the conference table.
- Blue. This is my go-to color for first interviews. Blue is professional and gives the impression of authority, confidence, trust, honesty, loyalty, reliability, and credibility. The best blue is navy blue. The darker color conveys a better sense of authority and confidence. Blue is also the world’s favorite color.
- Gray. The color of sophistication and professionalism. Gray is non-confrontational and less intimidating. It says, “I’m independent, logical, and capable of making decisions.” Gray is an excellent choice if you intend to add a splash using a bright color.
- Black. Black represents leadership, sophistication, and exclusivity. If you’re going to wear black, you’re applying for a position of authority. This is a high-powered color. You can work the runway at Fashion Week while simultaneously orchestrating the after party to be attended by the mayor. Avoid wearing black for entry level or retail positions.
- White. This is the color of organization, simplicity, and truth. White is an excellent choice for a blouse because of its contrast with the darker blues, grays, and blacks. White also shows that you’re detail oriented.
- Use accents to show your personality and spirit.
The last thing you want is for your interviewer to think you’re blah! You showed up dressed like an Oreo cookie for a managerial position at a tech start up: black suit, white blouse, respectable shoes, and a black handbag. Your earrings were simple studs. You did not wear any other jewelry or accessories. Even though you wore your power color with contrasting white, you did not show any originality or personality. Don’t be afraid to dress up your outfit with some flair – maybe not 37 pieces of flair but at least a little bit! Choose earrings, belts, scarves, or handbags in any of the colors below to show your personality. Depending on the role, you can even choose to wear a blouse in one of these colors.
- Red. A splash of red conveys energy and passion. This can be just the right “pop” to show your passion for the position. With red, a little goes a long way! Red is a persuasive color with the alter-ego of being hostile and defiant.
- Yellow. A bit of yellow speaks to your creativity and optimism. Yellow is a playful and cheery color. A splash of yellow can tell your interviewer that you’re fun and is an excellent choice for a career in creative arts.
- Green. This color evokes a sense of wellbeing, prosperity, and tranquility. If you are planning to wear your blue power suit, green is not the color to use as an accent. Be minimal in wearing green as it can also be viewed as an untrustworthy color.
- Purple. Use purple if you’re applying for a position in an artistic or creative field. Purple represents artistic and unique characteristics.
- Colors to avoid during an interview.
This is hard because the number one color to avoid in an interview is also one of my favorite colors – orange. There are only two colors that should never be worn to an interview.
- Orange. This is considered the worst color to wear to an interview! It is abrasive at best. Otherwise, orange is seen as too playful, unprofessional, and over-confident. Avoid orange until you start your job!
- Brown. Some will disagree with me on the color brown. While brown can mean reliable, it also stands for old fashioned, uninventive, and unmemorable. Just think of the last time you saw someone wearing brown. Any luck? See, unmemorable!
Other than the best color to wear to an interview, females should consider wearing solids over patterns and neutral colors over brighter colors. You want your interviewer to remember you, not your outfit.
If you’re being interviewed by a woman, blue-based colors are best. Choose deep blue-reds, blue, blue-gray, pink, and blue-green. If you’re being interviewed by a man, yellow-based colors are more appealing. Blue as your dominant color works great with an accent in red, apricot, or yellow.
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