First impressions often set a precedent during job interviews, and while what someone is wearing will not guarantee candidates a firm offer, it can boost the odds.
An overwhelming majority of job seekers who were successful in obtaining their positions said they believe that wearing a black suit or outfit to their interview was beneficial. Out of the candidates who were hired, 70% said they wore black with only 33% of rejected candidates chose the color, according to a study of 180 job applicants who were hired and 1,800 who were rejected during the process, according to SmartRecruiters, a San Francisco-based recruiting software company.
While someone's appearance is only part of the equation and not a fool-proof mechanism, it creates a positive first impression, said Jerome Ternynck, CEO of SmartRecruiters.
"The first handshake, the greeting and the clothing you have on display your confidence," he said. "Will dressing a certain way get you the job? Probably not, but it will set you apart from others."
A candidate's appearance along with his conviction during the discussion of the job position gives that person an advantage, said April Masini, a New-York based relationship and etiquette expert and author.
"Wearing black on its own isn't going to get you hired, but if the planets align and you've got a good resume, a good interview technique and the job is a good fit for you, something like wearing black can tip the scales in your favor," she said. "What wearing black shows an interviewer is that you're in the mix. You know what a lot of people are wearing and you can fit in socially."
An individual's appearance during the interview process can signify other soft skills and capabilities.
"This is a skill that isn't going to show up as a bullet point on your resume," Masini said. "It's something an employer has to read between the lines to figure out. When you wear black to the interview, you're broadcasting the fact that you know how to dress to fit in."
Wearing black could also demonstrate that a job seeker understand's the company's corporate culture and what it entails.
"Black isn't going to call attention to you the way other colors might," she said. "When you wear black, there's an underlying sense of reverence for the job. You let the work and the numbers speak for you and it shows you can be part of the company."
Wearing black is not necessary for all interviews, especially if you work in a less traditional or more creative field. People seeking jobs such as a kindergarten teacher, an oncology nurse or a performer can opt to wear color in their attire.
"Black is too sophisticated, too reverent and too much of a way to blend in for these types of job applicants to be wearing," Masini said.
Other data from SmartRecruiters revealed that 45% of successful candidates said they alter their resume for each job interview while 42% of unsuccessful candidates said they made the same decision.
The function of a candidate's resume is now geared towards highlighting their accomplishments, Ternynck said.
"It is the candidate's opportunity to include their social links, certifications, projects and skills," he said. "Our advice to candidates is to focus on skills than on the job description."
Either emphasizing a candidate's soft skills or their specific abilities which dovetail with the position is important, said Paul McDonald, a senior executive director of Robert Half, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing firm.
Avoid being vague or worse, being "pretentious" about these abilities, because it could backfire. Strong interpersonal abilities and communication skills from a job seeker means they are likely to "mesh well with colleagues and the company culture," he said.
Ensuring that a person's social media accounts appear professional is crucial since recruiters look those profiles to obtain a more complete picture of the candidate's personality.
"They play a big role in the hiring process today," said Ternynck. "Our survey found that 42% of rejected candidates reported that their Facebook postings are public, 23% said there are photos of them drinking at a party or bar on their social media and 23% also admitted to sometimes posting spelling errors."