Best Colors To Wear To A Job Interview (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Nov. 3, 2020

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There are so many things to consider when you’re getting ready for a job interview:

When you consider all of the things you need to pull together, your color choices don’t seem so important.

But they are.

There is a lot of psychology behind color and emotions. And this is a key point. Imagine being able to sway an interviewer in your favor just because of the color you’re wearing. Pick well and it could be a color that makes them happy, or that instills confidence.

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Choose poorly and they could feel resentment toward you. Or you might make them feel hungry and then they’ll just want to end the interview and go to lunch.

Why Are Colors Important for a Job Interview

Let’s look a little more deeply into how colors can affect someone’s mood. Psychologically speaking, colors are broken down in a few different ways. To help clarify the colors and the terms that apply to them, we’ve detailed their meanings.

  • Saturation. When speaking about saturation, we’re talking about how pure a color is. Think of fuchsia pink and how bright and pure it is. Now, think of dusty rose and how faded it is, there’s a lot of grey behind dusty rose. This means fuchsia is more saturated and dusty rose is less.

  • Brightness. This can be confusing, but brightness refers to how much light there seems to be in the color. Sapphire blue is not very bright. But when you add light to it, it turns into more of a royal blue, which is much brighter.

  • Warm Colors. Warm colors are typically in the red and orange families. Not only are these the hues you see in a fire, but they create a psychological sense of warmth. They can also make someone physically and emotionally feel warmth.

  • Cool Colors. Most greens and blues are cool colors. Think of a calm, cool, tropical ocean. These colors tend to make people feel calm and peaceful. Again, there’s a lot of psychology behind this and it can create actual physical sensations of coolness when there’s no temperature change.

Specific Colors and Associated Moods

(Can we get a colors and mood chart from graphics?)
A lot of science has gone into how colors make people feel and the following is a general summation of the results. Keep in mind that there are many more colors and color combinations, so it’s not a complete list. There are also some people who don’t respond like others – this is just a generalization but it tends to fit most people.

The color RED is associated with the following:

  • Intense

  • Energetic

  • Passion

  • Strength

  • Danger

  • Food/hunger

The color ORANGE is associated with the following:

  • Hot

  • Aggressive

  • Desire

  • Warmth

  • Success

  • Youthful

The color YELLOW is associated with the following:

  • Optimistic

  • Cheerful

  • Energetic

  • Abundance

  • Caution

  • Food/hunger

The color GREEN is associated with the following:

  • Wealth

  • Nature

  • Freshness

  • Calm

  • Soothing

  • Healthy

The color BLUE is associated with the following:

  • Trust

  • Security

  • Peaceful

  • Business

  • Wisdom

  • Integrity

The color PURPLE is associated with the following:

  • Royalty

  • Luxury

  • Calming

  • Mysterious

  • Creative

  • Wise

The color BLACK is associated with the following:

  • Power

  • Formal

  • Sophistication

  • Death

  • Mystery

The color WHITE is associated with the following:

  • Clean

  • Pure

  • Positive

  • Virginal

  • Freshness

  • Hope

How to Wear Colors at a Job Interview

If you want to make the best impression with a hiring manager, it’s best to use bright colors sparingly. Navy, brown, black, and grey are very neutral colors and you should rely on them as your main color choice. So when you’re figuring out what to wear for your job interview, let those colors be your primary impression.

After that, you can work in some more exciting colors that convey mood. How do you wear those colors? Try the following:

  • On your tie

  • In a piece of jewelry or hair accessory

  • As a scarf

  • In a subtle printed shirt or blouse

  • A pocket square

  • A belt on a dress

  • Your handbag, purse, or briefcase

Which 5 Colors are Best for Job Interviews and Why?

We’ve mentioned neutrals quite a bit already, and they’re going to rank pretty high in our 5 colors to wear for a job interview. So, let’s look at why they’re so important to your job interview success.

Why Wear Black to an Interview

Black is seen as a color of strength and authority. It’s a classic, so it really can be worn just about anywhere.

Job recruiters will associate it with power and authority. It may even help you come across as confident.

Because black is a flattering color, it might, in fact, make you feel more confident. The only time you want to shy away from black in a job interview is if you’re going for a customer service type job or something where you want to be seen as personable. Black can be too authoritative in some situations.

Why Wear Navy to an Interview

Blue is one of the most flattering colors, so you’ll look great.

In addition, it’s seen as trustworthy, honest, and it also implies that you’re a good team player. That’s the overall impression of all blues.

Because navy is closer to black than to a light blue, it has a stronger vibe. If you’re looking for a power job, then navy is the way to go. If you want a creative or customer-centric position, you might want to pair a light blue shirt with another neutral.

Why Wear Grey to an Interview

Grey is such a great neutral color. It’s seen as a logical color, very practical.

A lighter grey color will create a softer image while a dark charcoal grey can be more powerful.

You can select the color based on the type of position you’re applying for.

Why Wear White to an Interview

Don’t go all crazy and dress in head-to-toe white but opt for a white shirt over any other color.

White comes across as honest and dependable. It also has a clean impression, which is never a bad thing.

Another great reason to pair white with your power color, it will typically match very well and look great together.

Why Wear Red to an Interview

Okay, red is a great power color, it’s unforgettable, and it screams passion – which can be passion about a job.

Here’s the big caveat with wearing red – don’t wear a lot of it.

A red suit or red dress is definitely WAY too much red. A red shirt or blouse might be too much red. A tie or a top with a little red in it is just the right amount.

It’s probably not a good idea to wear a solid red tie, mainly because of the political implications. Unless you work in politics, it’s best to leave that out of the office place.

Colors to Avoid on a Job Interview

Of course, if there are colors to wear to a job interview, there are colors you should avoid. The following colors tend to go over poorly in business. That doesn’t mean there’s a rule that you can’t wear them. It just means it’s a good idea to avoid them.

  1. Why to Avoid Brown at a Job Interview. While brown is a great neutral color, it’s not great for an interview. Brown can totally be part of your regular work wardrobe but for an interview it comes across as passive. Brown is a good, steady color that speaks of earth and comfort. These aren’t always great attributes in a job interview (it can depend on the job) where hiring managers want to see excitement and enthusiasm.

  2. Why to Avoid Orange in a Job Interview. Orange has continuously come up at the top of the list of what interviewers don’t like. Orange apparently feels unprofessional, it’s a creative color but not in a good way. While decorating your office in orange might help your work show more flair, it’s not good for the work wardrobe.

  3. Why to Avoid Yellow at a Job Interview. Yellow is a sunny, happy, and optimistic color. It might even be your lucky color – but not at a job interview. Yellow is seen as a loud color, overly energetic, and attention-grabbing. It might be good for lunch with friends, but not a business meeting.

  4. Why to Avoid Purple at a Job Interview. Purple can be more and less saturated. The more saturated and the brighter it is, the less appropriate it is for a job interview. If you lean more toward lavender as an accent color on an interview, you’ll probably be okay. But a bright purple hue is seen as too fun and it doesn’t inspire trust or commitment. Bright purple can even come off a little arrogant.

  5. Why to Avoid Multi-colored Outfits at a Job Interview. Wearing a hodgepodge of colors or bold patterns and multi-colored prints to an interview is simply not a good idea. First of all, the color cacophony is just too much. It screams LOOK AT ME, and not in a good way. Not only do the colors come off as too much, the print will also be off-putting. It’s best to stick to a nice, solid neutral and then add a soft pastel, white, or off-white top.

Colors Matching the Character

Another very interesting thing about color is it doesn’t just inspire feelings and influence mood. Your favorite color can tell people something about your character, personality, or your interests. There have even been studies that suggest what career path you should follow according to your color preference.

Want to try it out? What is your favorite color – or what color would you paint the room you’re in right now to make you happy.

  • Red. This suggests that you’re strong willed, ambitious, and have a lot of energy. Red personalities are type A and very driven. This makes you good in management or leadership roles.

  • Orange. You are a social butterfly and love being around others. Oranges thrive on creativity so they would be great designers, writers, artists and actors.

  • Yellow. Are you a perfectionist and a dreamer? If so, you probably have a yellow character. You also have a great sense of fun and people like to be around you. Yellows tend to want to be in the spotlight so a job as a performer is good or a job where the environment is fast-paced.

  • Green. Green characters want to feel safe and secure and they need to be liked. Their social nature and diplomatic approach make them ideal in jobs that deal with people. They’re good counselors, attorneys, or in the social sciences.

  • Blue. Blue is a peaceful character color, but these people tend to have fixed principles that they live by. Blues are loyal and they appreciate quality. Their adherence to rules and ability to be loyal makes them great accountants and bankers.

  • Brown. This signifies you like and appreciate the simple things in life. Brown people like routine, it makes them feel comfortable. They also like quiet. A job in an office would be good for them, maybe even a librarian job.

  • Black. You’re a strong and independent person. The black characters can lead anyone. They’re great as CEOs of a company and as politicians.

  • White. If your character is white, you thrive on honesty, purity, and openness. You’re also very confident but you avoid confrontation. People who like white want to work in a “just” environment where everyone/thing is treated fairly. They’re their best when working with animals or children.

Of course, color characters are not set in stone because you may like a few colors or even a blend of them. Your color preference can also change over time. But it’s fun to see what your preferences might mean as far as your career choices.

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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