The Best Colors to Wear to a Job Interview

Info-graphic on the best colors for a job interview

The Balance / Theresa Chiechi

In today's job market, where companies might interview dozens or even hundreds of people for one position, first impressions are more important than ever. Interviewees need to pay attention to everything from what they wear and how they are groomed to their body language.

One important, and often overlooked, aspect of an interviewee's first impression is the color of their interview attire.

The color of your clothing sends a subconscious message to the interviewer about your personality.

The following tips can help you understand what colors to wear to an interview to make the best first impression.

Choose the Best Colors to Wear for an In-Person Interview

The right colors can help convey your confidence, professionalism, and your ability to fit into an organization's environment. To get you started, here are a few tips for choosing the right colors for your interview attire.

Choose Solids Over Patterns

An important rule of thumb is to try not to be remembered for your attire; you want to wear something that allows the interviewer to focus on your skills and qualifications rather than your wacky style. Wearing solid colors helps ensure that your clothes will not distract the interviewer.

Solid navy, dark gray, and black suits and dresses, in particular, look professional without being distracting. Small patterns, like thin pinstripes, are okay as well. The rule of thumb is to select a pattern that is small enough that it looks like a solid from across a room.

Choose Neutrals Over Brights

Again, you do not want to be remembered for your attire; if you wear a very brightly colored suit or dress, you will almost certainly be remembered for your outfit (rather than your job qualifications).

Neutral colors—navy, gray, black, and brown—are the best colors for a job interview. White is also an excellent, neutral color for a blouse or button-down shirt. You can certainly add a pop of color to a neutral interview outfit.

Limit the number of brightly colored items to one, and make sure it is not the dominant color of your outfit. No bright orange suits!

For example, a pale blue blouse under a woman's dark gray suit can subtly soften a look. A splash of bright, bold color (such as a red scarf or tie) conveys authority and can be great for managerial positions.

Choose the Best Colors to Wear for a Zoom Interview

What are the best colors to wear for a Zoom interview? Brie Reynolds, Career Development Manager and Coach at FlexJobs and Remote.co, shares her advice:

  • Consider what your background will be during the video interview and the colors in that. If you'll have a white or light-colored wall behind you, a contrasting richer or darker color will help you stand out and appear more three-dimensional.
  • Deep blues, greens, blacks, grays, browns, and purples can all work well.
  • Bright colors like yellow, orange, and red may be too bright, and pastel colors may be too light. 
  • Patterns can appear too busy on a video screen and may distract your interviewer from your great answers. Either choose a simple pattern or wear solid colors. 

Learn About the Work Environment

Do a bit of research on the company's work environment before your interview. You want to wear colors that show you will fit in with the company's culture.

Conservative Workplaces

In an office that tends to dress more conservatively, you should definitely stick to neutral, solid colors.

Casual Workplaces

However, in more casual offices, such as some startups and nonprofit organizations, you can feel comfortable wearing a bit more color. Softer colors (such as a pale blue blouse) in particular work well for more casual offices, because they convey a bit of personality without being overwhelming. If you are applying for a job in fashion, or a sales job at a unique clothing store, you might feel free to be a bit more creative in your coloring to show your sense of style.

If you are in any doubt about the company's culture, it is best to dress conservatively, with neutral, solid colors.

What Different Colors Say

Different colors evoke particular human responses, whether or not we are conscious of them. Below is a list of different colors you might want to wear for an interview, and the emotions they can evoke. Picking the right colors can help you present yourself in a particular way.

Neutral Colors

Blue

Blue, particularly navy, is a great neutral color for interview outfits. Blues convey feelings of calm, trust, and confidence—great qualities for an interviewer to sense in you. Blue is also many people's favorite color, and wearing an interviewer's favorite color will always make a great first impression.

White

Crisp and clean, white is a great color for shirts and blouses. The color conveys truth and simplicity and adds a bit of brightness without being too overwhelming.

Gray

Gray is another great neutral color for interview outfits. It evokes sophistication and neutrality. Gray is a great color to wear as a suit or dress; it allows you to look powerful but is not quite as domineering as a black suit or dress.​

Brown

Brown is a neutral color that evokes feelings of calm. It is a great solid, neutral color for an interview.

Power Colors

Black

Black is a very popular color for suits and dresses in interviews. However, black is a very commanding color that conveys a lot of power, authority, and even drama. This is a good color for a job in a conservative environment like a law office, or for an interviewee applying for a high-level executive position. However, black can be a bit overwhelming in a more laid-back office environment and can make you appear unapproachable.

Using black as an accent color (for example, in a scarf or tie) can give you a sense of authority without being overwhelming.

Red

Red is a bright, powerful color that conveys energy and passion. A pop of red (for example, in a scarf or tie) can convey just the right amount of passion without making you appear too emotional.