If you're preparing for an upcoming interview, you should put some thought into the colors of the clothing you plan to wear. Colors have meaning and convey emotion, and you want to ensure you're sending the right message to the hiring manager who's interviewing you. Learning about the meaning behind the colors that candidates frequently wear in interviews can help you decide which colors are most appropriate for your upcoming interview.
In this article, we discuss which colors are best for interviews, how you can choose which colors are most appropriate for your next interview and some bonus tips to help you decide what to wear.
Related: How to Prepare for 9 Interview Types
What colors to wear to an interview
The best colors to wear to an interview are ones that are neutral, such as black, navy, gray and brown. White is also an appropriate neutral color for a shirt or blouse. Depending on your preference, you can also add a bit of color to a neutral interview outfit to introduce your own personality.
Related: How to Prepare for an Interview
How to choose colors to wear to an interview
Here are some steps you can take to choose the right colors to wear for an interview:
- Consider the color.
- Consider the mix.
- Consider your audience.
1. Consider the color
Each color conveys a meaning and an emotion. Here are the meanings associated with some of the colors you may be considering for your interview attire:
This color represents leadership, sophistication and exclusivity. Many companies have chosen this color for their branding to communicate that they are the leader in their industry. Because this is a high-powered color, it's best reserved for high-powered interviews, such as those for top jobs or managerial positions. It's not an ideal color for someone interviewing for a position in retail, customer service or anything that's entry-level.
This is a good color to wear at an interview, as it exudes confidence and trust. Blue communicates to the hiring manager that you are a team player. In fact, many hiring managers name this as one of the best colors that candidates can wear to an interview. The brighter shades are eye-catching, while the darker shades are ideal for conservative professional jobs.
The color gray communicates that you are independent and logical or analytical. When you wear it with confidence, it conveys to the hiring manager that you are an individual capable of thinking on your own. Gray also provides a solid foundation for adding small amounts of color, such as a jewel-toned tie, pair of shoes or handbag.
Wearing white or beige is a safe color and can indicate to the hiring manager that you are highly organized.
This is an earthy color that communicates reliability and dependability. It's also important to note that while brown can convey solidity, it can also come across as old-fashioned, so be careful how you wear it if you choose this color.
This is a color that conveys passion and power and is a good choice if you are trying to persuade someone. This color has also been associated with energy, excitement and courage. Keep in mind though that red can also convey hostility and defiance. You may want to consider the role for which you're interviewing—such as whether it's a leadership position—before wearing this color.
Yellow, green, orange and purple
These louder colors can communicate that you're fun, although they may not be the best choice for an interview, as they don't invoke feelings of commitment and trust. Orange, in particular, is considered the most inappropriate color for an interview and can come across as overly confident and unprofessional.
2. Consider the mix
As you're deciding what color to wear, it's also important to consider what the color combination will be when you select multiple clothing items. For example, a dark suit with a brightly colored shirt can look highly professional. The same can be said for wearing muted gray clothing with plain shoes and a red jacket. If you do want to wear bright clothing, consider wearing mostly neutrals with just one brightly colored accent item.
3. Consider your audience
Do your research in advance and find out what attire is appropriate for the office. In general, for positions in management consulting, finance, investment banking or government, the recommendation is to wear a dark-colored suit. If the company's dress code is business casual, you may not even need to wear a suit. You may want to, in this situation, mix pants or a skirt with a blazer to create a professional, polished look.
Tips to consider when picking colors to wear
Here are some extra tips to consider as you decide what colors to wear to an interview:
Choose solids over patterns
Because you generally want the interviewer to remember you and not your attire, it's best to wear something that allows them to focus entirely on your qualifications. By wearing solids, you ensure that you look professional and that your clothing doesn't become a distraction. If you do prefer to wear a pattern, it's best to choose one that is small. The general rule is that if a pattern looks solid from across the room, it's appropriate for an interview.
The dominant color of your outfit should be neutral
While small amounts of color, such as red, can convey authority and be appropriate for leadership positions, you should limit the amount of color. The primary color should always be a neutral color like navy, black, gray or brown. All other brighter colors could be used as small accents only.
Consider your confidence
While color is an important consideration, you should also consider which items in your wardrobe give you the greatest amount of courage and conviction. The same applies to any special jewelry or good luck charms that you may be able to wear or even place in your pocket. If wearing—or carrying—something increases your level of confidence, you should consider including it.