The future is here. A future where you don’t even need to leave your house to participate in a formal job interview.
It’s really mind-blowing when you stop to think about it. It’s the wild, wild West of a freshly minted digital job market in a world where remote work, and remote interviews, have become the norm.
But the dawn of this new age video-conferencing culture brings its own set of challenges. Namely, how to prepare, and what to wear.
As someone who’s participated in more Zooms than I can count since 2020 – far too many in my opinion – I feel as though I’ve become a bit of a Zoom pro.
And so, in this article, I will offer some of my best tips on how to prepare for a professional Zoom call or interview, with a primary focus on what to wear.
But first, let’s answer a few frequently asked questions on the topic.
How should you dress for a Zoom interview?
Unless otherwise indicated, business casual interview attire should be the go-to for most Zoom calls.
Business casual usually means blouses, button-downs and/or blazers.
Video-based interviewees don’t have to worry too much about what’s going on below the waist due to the nature of the medium. However, I personally always recommend wearing pants, a skirt, or even just a pair of jeans just in case. Tales of boxer brief mishaps are far too common in this new era of Zoom.
And as always, when in doubt, do a little research on the company dress code before ‘hopping on’. Start with the company website. It may offer a few clues about employee culture and wardrobe expectations.
What is the best color to wear for a Zoom interview?
Neutral colors such as black, gray, tan, navy blue and olive are Zoom meeting staples. Neutrals are best for Zoom interviews as they are typically less distracting than bold vibrant colors. This is important because you want all of the focus to be on your words, not what you’re wearing.
However, take this advice with a grain of salt. A pop of color here and there certainly won’t hurt. And hiring decisions are rarely made based solely on whether or not the candidate was wearing the right shade of yellow.
The biggest thing to keep in mind while choosing colors for your Zoom job interview is actually, contrast.
You’ll want to make sure your outfit contrasts well and won’t disappear should you choose to opt for a virtual background.
For instance, if your background mostly consists of white walls, don’t wear white. If your background features a lot of orange, don’t wear orange (etc).
Should I wear makeup for a video interview?
Ladies – this is one of those rare times where more is, well, more.
Conventional wisdom will tell you to wear light makeup in a professional interview. However, cameras – especially webcams – tend to make everyone look washed out.
While you shouldn’t go too crazy with the makeup on a Zoom interview, you might want to consider adding a little extra bronzer, a bit more blush and slightly darker lip color to your morning routine.
Now that the frequently asked questions are out of the way, let’s get to the goods …
What to wear for a Zoom interview: 11 dos and don’ts
1. Do opt for business casual
As mentioned earlier, business casual attire is usually a go-to for virtual job interviews. Examples of business casual attire include:
- Long pants or trousers
- Knee length skirts
- Button-down shirts
- Polo shirts
- Buttoned vests
- Sports coats
2. Don’t wear graphic tees or divisive messaging
Whatever you do, refrain from wearing graphic tees with distracting or divisive messaging. This includes messages that could be perceived as “political”. Keep the focus on your qualifications, not your attire.
3. Do strive for comfort
Have you ever heard the old adage: “When you look good you feel good”?
Well, there’s a lot of truth behind that statement. When we think we look our best we tend to stand a little taller and demonstrate more confidence. And who doesn’t need a little boost of confidence in a job interview?
This is why I recommend choosing an interview outfit that you personally love.
I also recommend selecting textures and materials that aren’t hot and itchy.
Excessive scratching and sweating aren’t going to do your interview any favors.
4. Don’t get too comfortable
With that said, I also recommend not getting too comfortable.
Avoid leisurewear like sweats, plain t-shirts and pajamas.
Let the interviewer see that you care about making a good first impression.
5. Do wear pants
This one trips a lot of people up – they think the fact that they will be at eye level with their computer or laptop for the majority of the interview means they can get away with anything below the waist.
But as stated earlier, things happen.
What if you suddenly need to get up to retrieve a document or a sip of water? What happens if you drop the laptop or phone?
Don’t leave anything to chance. Just put on some dang pants.
6. Don’t overdress
Unless company culture calls for a three-piece black suit or a ball gown every day, there’s no need to overdress.
Your interviewer knows you’re at home and not at the Academy Awards.
7. Do utilize good lighting
This one is crucial.
Why put all of this thought into a wardrobe if you’re just going to end up shrouded in shadow?
Consider investing in a small desk ring light or two. I normally use these (a less than $15 investment)*.
Or if ring lights aren’t in your budget, just use natural light or strategically placed lamps.
Placing your laptop in front of a window so the sunlight hits your face is a quick, clever (and free) way to instantly improve your video conferencing game (I do this in hotels all of the time).
Bonus tip: Pair those ring lights with an inexpensive but professional quality microphone and you’ll be a real stand-out. I use the Samsun Q2U.
8. Don’t blend into your background
This one is especially important for those of you who like to use virtual backgrounds.
Have you ever noticed how some people seem to pull off virtual backgrounds seamlessly while others end up looking like floating heads with disappearing limbs?
Well, it all comes down to good lighting and good contrast.
Make sure you’re implementing the advice above (see tip #7) on lighting and choose colors and shades that easily contrast with your background.
9. Do wear tasteful jewelry and accessories
This one is especially true for ladies. Consider adding a bit of sparkle around your neckline or on your ears. Jewelry is a great way to make your look more polished.
10. Don’t go overboard with those accessories
But on that same note, don’t go overboard with those accessories.
Again, this is all about keeping your attire neutral and nondistracting.
If you have a lot of facial piercings you may also want to remove them (if possible) or at least tone them down a bit.
11. Do arrive early and test everything out before the interview
My final tip is more about the overall interview rather than wardrobe.
Make sure you log in to the call early and give yourself enough time to test your lights, microphone, virtual backgrounds (if desired), speakers and overall appearance. Make last-minute minor adjustments as needed.
There’s nothing worse than running late to an important meeting because of a technical issue or wardrobe malfunction.
Also make sure that you have everything you might need within an arm’s length before you begin – a cup of water, a box of tissues, reference materials, notes, etc.
As with most things in life, preparation is key. Zoom interviews are no exception.
Do you have a big Zoom interview coming up? Are you struggling on selecting the right interview attire? What are your best Zoom tips? Let me know in the comments below. And don’t forget to connect with me on social media.
*Ring light pricing subject to change.