Interview Attire That Will Get You Hired

By Chelsea Babin

When most people think of interviews, they immediately think of having to wear a suit. But it’s rare to see a developer, programmer or coder in a suit because the IT industry tends towards a more casual or business casual dress code. However, if you’re going on an interview, you don’t have the job yet. Interviews are a different beast entirely. Sure, your normal clothes make you feel more comfortable and at ease—which is an asset to have in any interview—but if you want to get hired, this is the interview attire you need.

> Color: Maybe you’ve heard rumblings about how red is a power color or how navy makes you seem less creative, but you’re not really sure if there’s evidence behind it. Now you have proof! A recent study by Harris Interactive for CareerBuilder surveyed hiring managers and HR professionals to see what, if any, personality attributes they associate with certain colors. The results are as follows:

  • Black conveys an assertive nature and is often associated with leadership roles or take-charge attitudes.
  • Gray makes you appear logical and analytical, which are great assets to have in the Information Technology industry or in any other industry.
  • White will make you look clean and organized. As another plus it can signify new beginnings, which is perfect for when you’re interviewing for an organization that’s trying to replace a less-than-stellar employee or go in a new direction. On the flip side it can also make you appear impartial, which may be bad for leadership positions.
  • Brown is a bad color for the tech industry because it may make you appear simple and slow to change.
  • Want to appear optimistic yet creative? Go for yellow! Its naturally sunny hues will make you appear to have a more positive disposition.
  • Green certainly hints at wealth and prosperity, but it also signifies a sense of calm and wellbeing. Like yellow, it is typically associated with creativity.
  • Purple is the last of the three recommended creative colors (orange is also considered creative, but we’ll get to that one in a minute). If you’re looking to appear artistic and unique, purple is certainly a contender.
  • Blue will make you look like a team player, which can be great for more collaborative roles. Unfortunately, it backfires if the position you’re applying for is a more creative job because it makes wearers look more conservative and credible than creative. If the role you’re applying for is both creative and team-oriented, try accenting navy with a little yellow, green, or purple.
  • Orange may make you appear creative, but it topped the list as the worst color to wear in an interview. Why? Most employers associate it with a lack of professionalism. Because of this, steering clear of orange is probably a safe bet.
  • Red was a color of power, boldness, and a naturally assertive nature. If you’re applying for a more collaborative job or a less managerial role, it’s best to avoid this intense hue.

These incredibly specific findings should help you comb through your wardrobe for colors that will give off the best first impression of you. But wait, there’s more! Did you know that darker colors make you appear more formal and authoritative while lighter colors make you appear more friendly and approachable? And when you contrast the two, you’ll appear more powerful than ever.

> Fit: Nothing makes you shift uncomfortably or appear to be shrinking into your blazer like an ill-fitting outfit. Low-end pieces can look make you look like a million bucks when they fit properly but even high-end pieces can be put to slovenly shame when they don’t fit. Too tight, too loose, too long, too short. Whatever the problem is, the best interview attire advice I can give you was given by none other than Michael Kors, a household name in the fashion industry, who said, “I hear it all the time: why do the Europeans always look so good? They have a relationship with their tailor and spend the time and money to make their clothes look the best.” Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you need to have every outfit tailored to fit just right, but tailoring one or two great interview outfits could mean the difference between confidently strolling into an interview and shifting in your uncomfortable dress pants, hoping no one notices how poorly they fit you. To make a good first impression you must be wearing clothes that fit properly, it’s as simple as that.

> Pattern: Large, bold patterns can be fun, but also incredibly overwhelming. Often pattern comes with more complex color mixing, so, if you’re going to utilize pattern in your interview outfit, it’s best to keep it simple. That means no pattern mixing unless you’re truly an expert at it. That also means you should steer clear of overly colorful, bright, or large patterns that may catch your interviewer’s attention more than your personality does.

> The argument for and against suits: There are IT positions in a whole host of industries and some HR departments, particularly in big business or banking, will be accustomed to seeing candidates in suits. If you dress too far down in a more formal setting, it may make you appear unprofessional or slovenly. However if you wear a power suit to a developer role at a new startup—where the typical dress code is nonexistent—you may appear too stiff or formal to fit in with their free-flowing, innovative vibe. That’s why asking if you should wear a suit to an interview will never get a blanket yes-or-no answer, because catering the formality of your interview attire to each individual company is your best bet.

> Distracting hair or flare: If you go into an interview with a Flock of Seagulls haircut, a lip ring, and a matching set of “love” and “hate” knuckle tattoos, you’re certainly going to catch some attention. Unfortunately, that attention will typically be negative. Distracting haircuts, hair colors, piercings, and tattoos are not poison in every interview, but removing every distracting apparel and accessory choice that you can will help the interviewer focus on what you’re saying, rather than what you look like.

> Your opinion matters: Are you exhausted by all of these rules yet? I promise I’m not trying to dampen your spirit or remove every shred of uniqueness from your appearance. If following any or all of these rules makes you uncomfortable or anxious, those feelings could come across in an interview and be detrimental to your success. Wear what you want, do what you want, be who you are! But before you do, remember…

> Their opinion matters most: In case you find yourself getting turned down over and over again by trying the “going only with your own opinion” method, you can’t say I didn’t warn you. What a hiring manager, HR representative, team leader or CEO thinks of you could make or break your chances at getting a job. If you want to get hired, your attire needs to be on point. The best way to ensure that you’re not ruining your chances is by going with the most appealing and appropriate colors, the best fit you can find, minimally distracting patterns, accessories and haircuts, and the formality that best suits the company you’re hoping to be hired at.

Preparing for an interview is an incredibly stressful, exciting, and anxiety ridden process that can often lead to unusual choices or overlooked details. With the advice above, you’ll be able to confidently walk into an interview, knowing that you’re wearing the attire that will get you hired. Try using these guidelines the next time you’re preparing for an interview, you’ll be surprised at how much it does to boost your first impression and, ultimately, your chances of being hired!