Job Interviews

Your choice of colors and clothing for job interviews, along with your personal presentation, can have a great impact on an interviewer’s first impression of you – this is established in the first 60 seconds of meeting you and is a lasting impression that is difficult to change.  This is particularly important in today’s difficult and competitive job market so make it a good impression.

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Your Choice of Color in Your Job Interview Clothing

Many people underestimate the power of the colours they wear for job interviews, but color sends a significant subconscious message to the interviewer about:

  • your character  
  • your attitude
  • your personality

It can convey your current level of professionalism and sophistication, your honesty and reliability, and your self-confidence.

What you wear for job interviews, or to work, is as much a calling card as any business card you may carry.

In What Type of Industry is the Job You Are Applying for?

This will determine your clothing and color choices, as will your gender and the gender of the interviewer, and the subconscious messages you wish to send to the interviewer.

Before going to job interviews, find out as much as you can about the company for which you are applying for the job and look at the culture of the business. The key here is to dress to fit the culture and to dress one step above what you would usually wear in the position for which you are interviewing. Show you are serious about this job.

Is it a:

  • Corporate, legal, accounting or financial services business – this requires a suit or classic dress in a conservative color – your best choice is a power color such as navy or dark gray – with a white shirt and a classic tie. Don’t wear distracting jewellery, colors or other attention-getting accessories.
  • Young and trendy one, perhaps in fashion  or advertising – this may be more casual, although it is still better to wear a suit for the first meeting – add your own individual flair by accessorizing with a trendy color that shows your individuality.
  • Trade position –  while you may wear jeans and a polo shirt on the job, always wear smart casual clothing, preferably a collared shirt and classic pants or slacks for all trade job interviews. If interviewing for a large company, add a tie and perhaps a jacket   (non-matching), to show you are serious. Wearing a suit is a little too much for most trade position interviews. Just make sure your shoes are clean and polished!
  • Sales and marketing  –  wear a suit and tie, or a suit or classic dress for women, for any sales or marketing interviews. Add some color in your tie, scarf or accessories to show your personality, but don’t overdo it!
  • Managerial positions – always dress well for interviews for management roles – a suit and tie for men and a suit or classic dress for women. Navy blue or dark gray are good choices. Remember you will most likely be interviewed by a conservative senior manager.
  • Administration positions – smart business attire is the best choice for admin interviews, preferably with a jacket (and tie for men), although it need not be a suit unless you are interviewing for a role in a professional office.

How do I choose the right colors and what do those color choices mean?

  • For first job interviews, as a general rule, I recommend that you wear conservative colors such as navy blue, mid to dark gray, black or brown, in a suit (for both men and women) or a classic dress for women.  Choose any of these conservative colours with a white, off-white or pastel blouse or shirt to soften the look, and add an accent of color to add energy and personality – for men this accent color will be in their tie, while for women it will be in their jewellery or a scarf.
  • Medium to dark colors are most business-like, authoritative and conservative and usually the best option for job interviews.
  • Lighter colors are friendlier and less threatening, but they lack power.
  • The more serious and high-powered the position you are applying for, the darker and more conservative the choice of color should be.

Common Mistakes Job Applicants Make

Not dressing appropriately for the position they are applying for – while it is important to feel comfortable in job interviews, it is more 
beneficial to the end result if you choose clothing colors based on the desired response from the interviewer.
Wearing colors or clothing that shock, whether consciously or subconsciously – these colors may include magenta, hot pink, bright orange and bright yellow – use them in very small amounts, if at all.
Not being well-groomed – hair should be neat and tidy, nails trimmed and clean, clothing clean and pressed, shoes clean and polished, and deodorant worn at all times.
Wearing too much perfume or after-shave will leave a lasting impression, but not a favorable one!
Trying to be too trendy – tattoos, nose and eyebrow piercings, showing too much skin as in very short skirts and low necklines, and very high heels are all inappropriate for a professional job interview.

Basic Tips for Successfully Dressing for a Job Interview

If you have had a personal color analysis done and know your best colors, you can incorporate these into your clothing, for example in a shirt, scarf, jewellery or tie – otherwise, choose colors that reflect your own coloring, for example green if you have green eyes, blue if you have blue eyes.

Take pride in your appearance – make sure your shoes are clean and polished, no body piercings, and cover any tattoos for all job interviews. Remember that often the interviewer may be older and more conservative so be careful you don’t offend with your appearance.

Play it safe and dress in tailored, structured and classic clothing, unless you are applying for a very creative job. Dress conservatively and understated – this doesn’t usually offend anyone.

Choose conservative, neutral colors rather than bright colors – medium to dark colors in blue, grey, black and brown are the most conservative and authoritative. Add small accents of other colors to show your personality. Read the previous information on what colors mean to make your choices.

For men:

  • Wear a conservative tie, at least for the first interview, in a plain color that works with your suit.
  • Wear dark colored shoes and dark socks that match either your shoes or your trousers.
  • Make sure your shoes are clean and polished, and not worn.
  • Don’t wear jumpers or cardigans.
  • Make your tie the right length – it should meet your belt buckle when you are standing straight
  • Check that your fingernails are clean too.

For women:

  • A skirt suit or classic dress is best for professional job interviews, while a pant suit is suitable for less professional types of jobs.
  • Wear minimal makeup and no chunky jewellery – keep it understated and minimal.
  • With accessories, less is more, when going for a job interview.
  • Have a neat and professional hair style.
  •  Wear light or skin colored hosiery with conservative shoes that match your clothing, or just plain black shoes.
  • Be modest – wear classic tailored clothing – no plunging necklines, no tight clothing and no short skirts.
  • Wear subtle nail polish, or no nail polish at all, and remember to check that the polish is not chipped and that your nails are clean.

Remember, these choices are just for the interview and to help you get the job – once you have it, you can dress more to suit your personality and the everyday culture and expectations of your new employer.

Of course, along with the right job interview clothing, you also need the skills, experiences and qualifications required for the job, as well as good interview techniques.

Remember to speak clearly and confidently, make eye contact, don’t put your hands in your pockets and turn off your mobile phone before the interview!

And be memorable for the right things!!


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