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It used to be simple – everyone wore a black suit. The only hard bit was finding one that fitted. Now it’s not so simple. It takes only seven seconds for someone to form their “first impression” of you, so unsurprisingly a lot of that impression is going to be based on what you’re doing and wearing rather than what you’re saying. So what should you wear if you want to get that job?
Firstly colour is important. Black suggests leadership and control, but can be intimidating if there’s too much of it without any relief. Grey = independence (which is not always good, especially if it’s a team role); white is organised but not seen as creative; red is power; brown is reliable; and green, yellow, orange and purple are creative but don’t trigger feelings of trust or seriousness.
However blue conveys both confidence and trust, and studies have shown that you are more likely to get the job if you’re wearing navy blue than if you’re wearing any other colour.
Colour sorted. Now for how formal.
If it’s a top-level job such as a board member, or it’s an interview for a traditional-type job role, then more formal is the way to go, although it doesn’t have to be a suit. Having said that, bear in mind that floaty, overly feminine dresses can subconsciously imply a lack of power, but a dress or skirt is still ok so long as it’s not too short and has a strong structure to it. For more creative roles and businesses with a younger team dynamic go more relaxed.
Overall the most important thing to remember when choosing what to wear is that managers are going to hire candidates who they think will fit in well with the rest of the team. With this in mind the best thing you can do is to research (either online or do a subtle snoop in person) and see what the other people working there wear on a day-to-day basis and base your choice on this. Birds of a feather and all that.