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The best color to wear for a job interview

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As if mentally preparing for a job interview isn’t stressful enough, deciding what to wear can take the pressure up a couple notches.

When comes to color choices for an interview outfit, it turns out that playing it safe, by wearing mostly black, is probably your best bet, according to a survey of job applicants by SmartRecruiters.

Last month, the firm surveyed 180 applicants who were subsequently hired and 1,800 who ultimately didn’t make the cut. It found that the former had a few things in common. Among them, 70 percent of successful applicants wore mostly black outfits to their interviews. Only about 30 percent of rejected candidates wore black.

While the dress code at many companies has loosened up over time, job seekers shouldn’t necessarily take that as permission to show up for an interview dressed down, said Jerome Ternynck, chief executive officer of SmartRecruiters, a recruiting software firm. An interview outfit, he added, should reflect the culture of the company you’re hoping to work for.

“You have to match [your outfit to] the company culture. If you show up in jeans at Citibank, it may not be well-received,” said Ternynck.

While some experts contend that looks matter when it comes to hiring and earning potential, SmartRecruiters’ survey found that attractive applicants -- or at least those with a high opinion of their looks -- don’t necessarily fare better than job seekers who aren’t quite as easy on the eye. 

Nearly 80 percent of successful applicants rated themselves as either average-looking or “slightly unattractive,” which may, of course, also mean that a little humility can go a long way. Meanwhile, 66 percent of rejected candidates rated themselves “attractive” or “very attractive.”

Physical appearance is likely to make a difference when it comes to landing certain types of jobs, said Ternynck. If you’re applying to be a personal trainer, for instance, it helps to be attractive, or at least physically fit. 

But in most cases, good looks don’t necessarily give job seekers an edge, said Ternynck. Nonetheless, his firm encourages employers to use a team-based hiring process to try to eliminate personal biases from the selection process. 

“Looks don’t matter in terms of hiring. We’re passed that,” said Ternynck. “It’s about attitude more than looks, luckily.” 

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