You know your skin tone, your season, and your most flattering wardrobe pieces, but certain colors have the power to send a message that has nothing to do with you. Whether you’re applying for a gig at a tech firm, a law firm, or anything in between, there are some color rules that apply regardless of how casually or formally you’re dressed. To make the ideal first impression, here’s a quick guide to what colors to wear to an interview (and which colors to avoid).
According to a group of hiring managers in a study hosted by CareerBuilder, blue conveys the most positive vibes right off the bat. In fact, nearly a quarter of hirers named this as the best color to wear to an interview. Brighter shades tend to be more eye-catching, while tones like navy are ideal for more conservative professional jobs.
Whether you opt for charcoal, ash, or stone, gray tends to send the message that you’re smart, savvy, and even-keeled. It also provides the perfect foundation for a splash of color like a jewel-toned handbag or vivid pair of shoes.
This is one of the best colors to wear to an interview, but with a caveat: As a high-powered color, save it for high-powered interviews. 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.
Unless you’re interviewing at Hermès, orange is considered to be the worst color to wear to an interview. In addition to being a bit abrasive, it comes across as too playful, unprofessional, and over-confident.
Certain shades of brown can come across as drab, but the reason you should avoid wearing this color to an interview goes a bit deeper. For many hiring professionals, brown tends to convey reliability and solidity, but it can also come across as old-fashioned, uninventive, and generally unmemorable.
You know how a bullfighter uses red to enrage the bull? Remember this when considering what colors to wear to an interview. Red may be your most flattering color, but it can also convey hostility, defiance, and volatility—not exactly prized attributes in a prospective employee.
Now that you know what colors to wear to an interview (as well as what not to wear), here’s the one fabric to avoid at all costs during an interview.