Interviews are always nerve-wracking experiences. Most people rehearse what they will say and try to imagine what questions will be asked. Interviewees will make sure to be on time. They will agonize over the best outfit to wear to make the best impression.
However, most people don't think much about the color of the clothing they will wear to an interview. Of course, this isn't the most important thing to consider when going for a job interview. But studies have shown that colors do trigger subconscious responses in humans. Why not use that to your advantage at a job interview? Any little trick to make a good impression at an interview can't hurt.
How much color can you put on when you want to portray yourself as powerful and professional?
In the fall and winter, Legatos favors a splash of red or purple when she meets with clients or potential clients, and she considers new client meetings akin to job interviews. Occasionally she will wear a black-and-white zebra patterned jacket. ''I feel fabulous in that jacket,'' she said. Yet she knows it may be a little ''out there,'' so she balances it with very conservative shoes and handbag, and she doesn’t wear it to every new client meeting.
When you’re choosing your colors and your attire, be thoughtful on what you’re doing -and who you’re meeting and what message you want to convey. Legatos suggests you ask yourself: ''What do I really want to project?… This is a person who’s promotable. This is a person who knows how to establish a presence. ''
Added Ellen Schulman, a career counselor with CareerGenerations: ''Do you really want to be perceived as the orange, turquoise or chartreuse lady interviewing? You want to standout, not the color.''
Consider the color. Colors convey meaning and emotion. Red means luck in Chinese, and red and black are power colors, said Legatos. They may work for an executive or contract negotiators’ job. But if you’re interviewing for an administrative assistant job at a nonprofit, you may be better off in a less bold color – blue or brown or something more neutral. White – as in a shirt or blouse- suggests clean, purity, honesty. People do have these subconscious reactions to the colors you’re wearing.
Consider the mix. If you’re trying for professional with some flair, pair a dark suit with a bright colored blouse or shirt. Or wear the red jacket but make the rest of the outfit a muted gray with plain professional black shoes. Wear a scarf or a tie with some zest to bring in a little color. If you love purple, by all means, carry your purple purse. But the purple purse and shoes and blouse, ''that might be a little much,'' said Legatos. Brighter colors are fine; just ask yourself: How much is right? To be safe, you may want to wear mostly neutrals and just a ''splash of color,'' said said Schulman.
Consider your audience. If you’re heading to a Wall Street investment bank, you may want to wear something more conservative than if you’re interviewing big famous companies. And if you’re talking to the creative types, or want to work at Chico’s, a woman’s clothing chain that mixes a palette of color and styles, you may be fine in your jewel tones or rainbow of colors attire. But if you’re meeting the CFO or the head of the legal department, tone it down: Wear brown, navy, and black. ''The key here is to show you as someone who fits into the organization,'' said Schulman, who worked in the fashion industry before becoming a career coach.
Years ago, Legatos wore a dark eggplant purple suit to a job interview at a Boston-based mutual fund company. Everyone else seemed to wear black or navy. The interviewer gave her that ''once over with the eyes. That threw me off,'' she recalled. She knew immediately that her suit, though professional, didn’t fit into that place.
Consider your confidence. If that red jacket gives you a sense of courage and conviction of your high value, then it may be worthwhile to wear it. Same with some special necklace, family heirloom watch or other good luck charm that you can slip into your pocket.
However, if you feel most authentic and confident wearing a beaded blouse and a fringed jacket and old jeans with holes in the knees, you may put that on for a few minutes, look in the mirror – and then change into something more professional for the job interview, Legatos said Being authentic is important, but so is the understanding that your social image may differ from your professional presence.