IT Employment

Can the color you wear really affect your job chances?

Getting a job is all about attention to the details. Being prepared includes considering how you appear to the interviewer. The color you wear can make or break your chances!

This is a guest post from, Jonathan Dempster, a recent graduate in the UK who landed a job after six months of interviewing. Here are his tips for managing your appearance in an interview.

As business needs become more specific and tailored, what is considered the exemplary candidate is increasingly subjective. When it comes to interviewing, it's all about "understanding your audience" and standing out. With stiff competition for every job, even the smallest details--such as the color of what you wear--could help you gain the job of your dreams.

Get noticed = Get the job

When looking for a role, understanding what the company wants from a staff member is one of the easiest ways of standing out from your competitors. However, it isn't all about what you say. A report by the BBC suggests that 55% of the impact you make at work depends on how you look and behave--only 7% depends on what you actually say.

Therefore, if you can get your look right, you're likely to have a better chance in the interview process. Depending on your industry, the color decisions you make can go a long way to get you noticed. According to the report, red can be intimidating, and not good for the office. On the other hand, green is seen as soothing and can show commitment.

50 shades of grey

Depending on the role you have applied for, certain colors could be used to enhance the impression you make. Grey is a very popular color for a business suit, however, it's also the only color with no direct psychological properties. In fact, evidence suggests heavy use of grey may indicate a lack of confidence and could have a stifling effect on other colors you wear with it. On the other hand, a dark grey suit can look very stylish without the harshness that a black suit brings.

Remember to avoid black. Although it may be useful for other events down the line, a black suit is very harsh, especially when combined with a white shirt. Due to the authority connotations associated with it, it could set up a boundary between you and the interviewer, and lead to a situation where the interviewer doesn't think you would be suitable.

A dark navy suit is a very professional color, and the psychological properties of blue suggest trustworthiness and loyalty. It's also a very safe color that complements the majority of others well (and goes well with a lot of skin tones).

If you're in a desk role in a relatively laid back office, coming in with a formal suit may be slightly too much. It may put a shadow of doubt in the mind of your interviewer that you might not fit into the office culture. Once this seed has been planted, they will be looking for reasons to confirm their judgements.

Details, details, details!

Although they will play the smallest part of getting the job, shoes ultimately say more about someone than a lot of people give them credit for. Think a nice pair of formal shoes for men or a solid and neat heel for the ladies. Keep the colors very basic; a general rule of thumb is that your shoes should be at least as dark as your suit, and remember to make sure you're wearing the same color belt.

So...what should I wear?

Remember, it is all about remaining traditional with your color choices, but standing out at the same time. Wearing what makes you feel good will make you feel and act more confident, therefore giving a confident impression to your potential employer. Just keep some of these tips in mind.

12 comments
mckinnej
mckinnej

I don't have much faith in the whole "color affecting mood" mumbo jumbo. Tests have been done where prisons were painted in "soothing" colors. The colors had zero impact on inmate behavior. To me that says the whole thing is just some decorator's scheme to trick me into buying paint. There are individual preferences (I like yellow/orange), but to attempt to apply these on some broad psychological level is complete bunk. I have found zero real evidence to support it and plenty against it. Back on the real topic, the key is to look professional. If a guy shows up in a pink or purple suit, I'm going to have serious doubts about his ability to fit in with the team. Ladies, don't look like you're getting ready to hit the clubs when you leave. Guys, don't look like you slept in your suit. Get a haircut or at least comb it. Don't come off as a slob. Honestly though, in all the hundreds of interviews I've done over the years, I can't think of one instance where what the applicant wore impacted my decision at all. Not even a little bit. If your company has someone that is selecting candidates based on what they wear to the interview rather than their skills and what they can bring to the team, then I'd say you need to get someone else to do the interviews.

Viktor_f
Viktor_f

IMHO - the person low professionalism may really affect your job chances.

JamesRL
JamesRL

The best thing to do if you can is: a) have a friend who works inside tell you or b) discreetly check it out for yourself. You can make some assumption based on the industry. Financial institutions tend to dress up, for example. Software companies, not so much. But when in doubt, be dressy but conservative. No joke ties. I would not wear a black suit, but grey or blue would be fine. If you don't have a suit, at least dress your best. People assume that you will wear your best to an interview and that will be the "best" you ever come into the office in. You don't have to spend a lot. I wore a $100 tux many times(not to work), and no one ever thought it was cheap. A blue blazer over khaki pants(or grey dress pants) is fine at some places.

james
james

Maybe the title of the article is to blame, but I was expecting something more than just a few colors discussed. Black, blue, or two shades of grey that's it? You mention details like shoes and belts, but no suggestions on shirt and ties other than the 'no white with black suits' comment? It's my opinion, but I'd really think you should have some useful suggestions on complete outfits with variations based on Industry/job class before posting something like this...

jetfxr69
jetfxr69

For an entry of several hundred words, there was remarkably little said...

Slayer_
Slayer_

Because you don't know the dress level until you get to their office for the interview. And I think the consequences of underdressing are worse then that of overdressing.

Slayer_
Slayer_

This is how out of touch I am....

robo_dev
robo_dev

The lime-green tie did clash with the camoflauge pants and signal-yellow shoes anyway.

mckinnej
mckinnej

If you can't get the info out of the recruiter/HR person, try calling a receptionist. They'll usually help you out with the dress code.

JamesRL
JamesRL

In the 80s, when I would be working at a computer show you could spot the IBM employees. Dark blue suit, plain white shirt (no stripes or patterns), solid red coloured tie, that was IBM. An interview there would be easy..... I had to wear suits or at least jacket and dress pants at some of my earlier corporate computer jobs. I had to take off the jacket when crawling under desks to check cables.

mckinnej
mckinnej

if you're interviewing in Alabama or Georgia during deer season. :)