have been told that brown, grey, black, and navy blue are the
universal attire colors for an interview. Recently, I heard that
other colors such as red are considered power colors. I would
like to find out which of the statements is true and if there
is actual flexibility in the color of interview attire.
is indeed a power color, but I do not recommend that you wear a
red suit on an initial interview. Even today, the most accepted
colors for interview attire are these: black, navy, dark gray,
and dark olive green, with black and navy taking the lead as the
According to Job Outlook 2002, an annual survey conducted
by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), a
job candidate’s appearance does influence employers’ opinions
and hiring decisions. The NACE study reported that 92% of this
year’s survey respondents said that a job candidate’s
overall appearance definitely affected their opinion about that
candidate. They also said that attributes, such as the following,
influenced their opinion:
- Nontraditional interview attire (82 percent)
- Handshake (74 percent)
- Unusual hair color (73 percent) or style (64 percent)
- Body piercing (72 percent), and
- Obvious tattoos (69 percent)
You can certainly integrate some red into an appropriate
interview outfit, such as wearing a red silk blouse with a black
suit. But do not go so far as to wear red shoes or carry a red
Consider the industry in which you are interviewing.
For example, advertising, real estate, fashion, high technology,
and graphic art companies would more readily embrace a red suit.
Whereas more traditional industries, such as banking, insurance,
health care, and financial services, expect interviewees to wear
more traditional business attire, such as dark suits.
For regular attire (not the interview scene), red
is considered a classic vibrant color, whether for social or business
occasions. On the nonverbal level, red signals that you have self-confidence.
A person who wears red is willing to be seen, right? Red also conveys
energy and often reflects a dynamic personality.
Power colors are typically dark in nature. Women
today can “power up” in rich dark shades of red, brown,
green, blue, purple, black, and navy. For interviews however, play
it safe and stick with a black or navy suit for these reasons:
- Today’s job market is highly competitive.
Why take a chance of being discounted or offending the potential
- To show respect for the company and the interviewer’s
time (i.e. you take the interview process seriously)
- To show that you understand the consequences of
your business image (i.e. you take your career seriously)
- To send the message that you understand how to
play the game of business and that you want to win