The Clothes Make the Candidate: How to Choose the Best Colors to Wear for Job Interviews

Diverse group of business people in different colored clothes sitting in a row on chairs in an office reception waiting for a job interview

If only you had some way to subconsciously and subliminally convince a hiring manager that you are the right person for the job. It turns out that there actually are some “hacks” you can use to appear more qualified and capable when you show up for job interviews.

The colors we wear convey strong messages that impact how others view us. This is definitely something that you can use to your advantage when trying to pull off a professional appearance at an upcoming job interview. Let’s talk about the best hues for getting hired and which colors to avoid.

The Worst Colors to Wear for a Job Interview

Let’s start by looking at the color mistakes you can make during a job interview. To help us out, CareerBuilder actually conducted a survey a few years back that asked thousands of hiring managers around the country their opinions on how job applicants should dress. The results reveal the colors that make hiring managers cringe. Let’s cover the colors not to wear based on what the people doing the hiring say.

Smiling woman in orange shirt looking at mirror reflection at home or clothing store dressing room

According to hiring managers, orange is the worst color to wear for a job interview. This may come as a surprise to you if you know that orange is a color that’s associated with creativity and individuality. However, it turns out that orange is simply too “out there” for hiring managers.

Yellow is another color that’s problematic for hiring managers. The reason why loud, citrusy colors are so unappealing to hiring managers happens to be the same reason why creative people love them. Orange and yellow signal fun, attention-getting attributes. However, they don’t necessarily make you come across as a dependable, trustworthy person. Both can make you look more like the “life of the party” instead of someone who will show up on time every day to work for eight hours.

That means you may want to choose a more conservative color for your interview while planning to break out the orange threads at your first office party at the new job. The same goes for colors like green, purple, violet and baby blue.

Which Colors Do Hiring Managers Like?

Generally, hiring managers love neutral and muted tones. In fact, blue and black actually both make the top of the list among polled hiring managers. Let’s uncover the messages that both of these colors are subconsciously sending to hiring managers.


Confident young man attending job interview in black clothes

Black conveys power and confidence. You might be thinking about wearing red for an interview because you know that red is considered to be a “power” color. However, you’ll do a much better job of conveying natural, innate power by wearing black.

The truth is that red can come across as bold and confrontational. It can also make other people feel the need to “speed” through an interview because their senses are being activated. Black achieves the same message of powerfulness without creating the pulse-inducing physiological and psychological effects of red.

When you wear black, people find you to be sophisticated and elite. You are communicating prestige and glamour in a quiet, confident way. Black is also a color of leadership. The bottom line is that black is a great color if you want to appear serious, astute and worthy of respect.


Businesswoman with colleagues walking down stairs in blue clothes

A crisp navy outfit is a top pick for job candidates because it achieves much of what black achieves with a slightly more interpersonal edge. Blue is a color of trust, honesty and reliability. It also happens to be associated with stability. This is important if you’re trying to come across as a responsible, capable person who can be counted on to perform.

The fact that blue has a calming effect can also work to your advantage. Research shows that people can actually feel calmer and reduce their blood pressure just by sitting in blue rooms. By wearing blue, you’re making the person interviewing you feel at ease around you on a subconscious level.

This may help them to form a bond with you more easily as the conversation progresses. They may also feel comfortable revealing details about the job role in question to you that they might hold back on with someone else.

White and Beige

Woman in white clothing being interviewed and shaking hands with business partner

White and beige evoke feelings of confidence because you are stepping outside the norm without actually wearing a “risky” color. This immediately shows a hiring manager that you know how to strategize.

What’s more, people who dress in white are viewed as being highly organized. This is a great trait to be able to get across on a subliminal level if the job role you’re applying for demands organization and precision.

Our minds automatically assume that a person wearing white or beige trusts themselves enough to know that they will be able to prevent any circumstances that could lead to spills and stains.


Portrait of corporate businessman with smartphone wearing brown suit

Brown can be a good choice for job interviews. Our minds associate brown with stability because we think of the solid earth beneath our feet whenever our eyes come upon brown.

While brown is a safe choice, it doesn’t evoke any strong associations with attributes like power, organization or creativity. However, it does make you come across as reliable and grounded.


Man in grey suit looking at phone in office lobby after job interview

Grey is another color that works because it’s neutral. However, you do have to be a little bit careful with grey because it is sometimes associated with being highly independent. In fact, grey is the “loner” color.

That means it may not be the color for you if you don’t want to conjure up images of a lone grey wolf working apart from the pack when applying for a job where teamwork is essential.

Final Thoughts on Choosing the Best Colors for a Job Interview

What should you wear to get hired? The best interview outfit is one that the interviewer won’t remember on a conscious level. However, the impression you’ve made with your choice of color will be imprinted on the interviewer’s mind on a subconscious level if you coordinate everything perfectly to be attractive and neutral. After all, you want your qualifications and demeanor to be the topics of conversation instead of your outfit.