Do the colours you wear impact interview success?

by Mina Machacek

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We’ve all been told to dress to impress for interviews, but what does that even mean? Should you put on a stuffy suit and sweat your way through an interview, or should you wear something more comfortable yet smart that shows off your style and personality? Figuring that out is hard enough and now I’d like to add something else into the mix – colour. How do the colours you choose to wear impact your interview success?

Colour, personality and perception

Almost every colour has both positive and negative connotations associated with it. Black for example can symbolize boldness, wealth, elegance and strength – all positive attributes. But on the down side black can also be associated with mystery or evil.

Green is generally associated with balance, restfulness, being ecofriendly and soothing. The negative associations of green are jealousy, greed and envy. Red too has two sides, it can symbolize love, passion and energy, or it can also be seen as being angry or aggressive.

So how does one choose colours that accurately express personal character and style while still being respectful to the interviewer and the company culture? Here are some tips for making colour work for you:

  • Avoid Monotones

While white is colour that complements all others, arriving at an interview in all one colour can come across as one dimensional with a lack of depth or the ability to be flexible/adaptable. Mix and match colours, using different tones of the same or similar shades to contrast. That way there is colour differentiation but it is complementary.

  • Could the colour have a negative effect on the interviewer?

Just as certain colours have positive associations for you, the same could be said for the interviewer. While this is not something you can know in advance it is better to err on the side of caution rather than go too bright or too bold. Very bright colours, such as yellow, pink or purple, for example, can be overbearing on the eyes. If these are your favourite colours use them in muted shades or more sparingly as a feature accessories such as a scarf or tie.

  • What’s the role and company culture?

When going for an interview it’s important for you to research the business to find out more about the people that work there and the general company vibe. Their look and feel will give you lots of hints/clues about their interpretation of colour inside their business.

  • Be true to you

Interviews are already a strained environment. Wearing your favourite colours can help you to feel more comfortable and relaxed. Even more than that, colours can be associated with positive memories. As a child you may have had a favourite blue bunny soft toy, or a pair of red wellingtons that you loved. So when you see those colours it carries positive associations and helps you feel more confident.

Choose colours that reflect some of your personality and style. This will give the interviewer some insight into who you are. It doesn’t always have to be bold or bright colours, be true to who you really are, rather than who you think you should be portraying.

Still confused as to what colours to choose? Here are some colour associations with personality types to give you some guidelines:

  • Use RED for energy and passion. Even for someone a little more reserved this can help bring out these traits.
  • YELLOW symbolizes confidence and optimism. Just remember to use it sparingly.
  • BLUE is said to aid concentration and clear thinking. It’s ideally suited to someone who is sensitive and kind natured.
  • GREEN is great for interviews portraying a sense of calm reassurance.
  • GREY is a safe colour but can symbolize a lack of confidence so combine with other brighter colours.
  • VIOLET is suited to someone who is a confident communicator, but is best used as a feature colour combined with muted shades.
  • ORANGE is interesting because it reflects fun and vibrancy. Use it in moderation though, too much could give the impression that you’re not serious about your career.
  • PINK can add warmth as a moderate shade to someone who is shy by nature. A bright fushia touch adds vibrance and personality.
  • BLACK is most people’s default. It portrays efficiency and seriousness. However, complement it with other colours, too much black can come across as menacing.
  • WHITE speaks of simplicity and sophistication. Always combine with other colours both muted and bright to offset its sterile appearance.

Colour preference and perception is personal, based on experiences and associations that can be both good and bad. While here I have shared some guidelines, there are no set rules. Wear what works for you, while being aware of the colour associations, and tie this in with your personality and style so that you can put your best foot forward and win at your interviews.

Meet the Author

Mina Machacek | Recruitment Director
020 7929 2999 |
Find out more about Mina here. 


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