First impressions are crucial when it comes to interviews, and a Zoom interview is no exception. It’s important that you look and feel confident, and that you present yourself in your best light. Body language, eye contact and the way you dress can have a big impact on the way an interviewer perceives you; most people form an opinion within a few seconds, whether they realise it or not.
One of the reasons that Zoom job interview attire is so important is because an interviewer has much less to go on when conducting an interview online. Without meeting them in person, a candidate’s appearance suddenly becomes more important. Research done by Job Description Library indicates that there was a 67% increase in the use of video interviews from 2020 to 2021, and that more than half of employers will continue to conduct interviews via video post-Pandemic. Whether we like them or not, Zoom interviews are here to stay!
Best Practises for Zoom Interview Attire
Before we get stuck into what to wear for a Zoom interview, let’s look at some best practises. These will make you feel more confident, which in turn will make you appear more composed to an interviewer.
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Get Fully Dressed
We’ve all been there. Business on top, pyjamas on the bottom. While comfort is important, so is professionalism. Psychologically, getting dressed from head to toe for a video interview will make it feel more like an in-person interview. Even though your interviewer will likely only be able to see you from the waist up, getting dressed in full will ensure you are more focussed.
Get the Lighting Right
Another good practise for video interviews is to get the lighting right. You don’t want to have put a lot of effort into your appearance, only for you to be washed out by fluorescent lighting, or for you to be in cave-like darkness.
A good idea would be to invest in a desk lamp that you can have, shining on your face, from behind the computer. A warm-toned light bulb will generally be more flattering than blue-white light. If you sit in front of a window and are lit by natural light primarily, make sure the sun won’t be shining directly into your eyes or onto your face, as this can be distracting for you.
Get the Camera Angle Right
Just like getting the lighting correct, you’ll need to make sure that you set up the camera angle correctly too, in order to show yourself in your best light.
This means having the camera at eye level so you can make ‘eye contact’ with the interviewer, and having it pointing straight on rather than looking up or down at you.
Test Your Set-Up
When you’re in a Zoom job interview, the last thing you need is technical difficulties. Making sure you know how to log on to Zoom and use the basic features is like making sure you know which train to catch to get to your in-person job interview.
This includes testing how you’ll look on camera. To do this, simply load up your computer webcam, or a Zoom meeting with no one in it, and check that the lighting and camera angle are correct.
Get the Framing Right
Along a similar line, you’ll need to also get the framing right. This means making sure you aren’t too zoomed in or too far away from the camera.
You should aim to get your head and chest in the shot when you’re sat up straight and looking at the camera. Sit as though you are in an interview in-person: no slouching, laying back, or putting your feet up!
Limit the Distractions
Another important Zoom interview best practise is to limit distractions around you. You wouldn’t get your phone out in an in-person interview, so don’t do it in a Zoom interview either! Likewise, avoid answering the door or talking to people around you while you’re on the call.
It’s probably a good idea to put your phone on airplane mode and ask anyone you live with not to disturb you for the duration of the interview. This also extends to pets: cats walking across the keyboard and dogs barking for their dinner may have once seemed adorable, but they can distract from the interview and make you seem unprofessional.
Don’t Forget About Grooming
It’s easily done. Nowadays we’re so used to being on online calls that we can let the little things slip. Remember, it’s important to present yourself as if it were an in-person interview, and grooming is no exception to this. Styling your hair neatly and wearing light makeup (if you wear makeup) can make you seem more put-together, and the effort won’t go unnoticed.
Feel Good About Yourself
The last best practise for Zoom interview attire is to make sure that you’re feeling confident and comfortable. At the end of the day, wearing that really scratchy blouse just because it looks good on camera will only be a distraction from the interview.
You need to be performing at your best, and to be able to concentrate on the questions asked. This means feeling confident and happy, and not unnecessarily stressed. If you feel uncomfortable and are constantly fidgeting then the interviewer will likely notice this.
How to Set Up Your Zoom Background
Another hugely important factor when deciding what to wear for a Zoom interview is the background. You’ll want to strike a balance between clean but not clinical, and neutral but not drab.
Clean & Tidy
It goes without saying that you should make an effort to tidy the room you’re doing the interview in, so that it looks professional on camera. It shouldn’t be the main focus of the call, so it needs to have minimal clutter visible.
You’ll need to also consider the lighting of your background. Having too many lights behind you can make you blend into the background, so in general it’s best to keep the light directly in front of you if you can.
You don’t want your background to clash with your Zoom interview attire, nor do you want to blend into it. Pick a spot in your house with a neutral background; a colour that doesn’t distract too much will allow the interviewer to focus more on your face. Consider somewhere with a plain wall, rather than a cluttered bookshelf.
Reflecting Some Personality
Having said that, it’s ok to inject some personality into your background - it’ll serve as a good ice-breaker or conversation topic. Keep the clutter to a minimum, but if you play a musical instrument, you can consider displaying it in the background.
This will help to make you more memorable, and, as long as the interviewer is not distracted by too many items, will go a long way to making you seem personable and friendly.
If you’re limited with the backgrounds you can use in your home, you can always consider Zoom’s virtual background feature. Download an image of a background from a site with copyright-free image downloads such as UnSplash or Pexels, and upload it to Zoom.
Alternatively, Zoom has a background-blur feature that means you can blur the background to eliminate distracting items or colours. This also helps the interviewer to focus more on you, because you’re in the foreground.
How Formal Should my Zoom Interview Attire Be?
Once you have sorted the background, lighting, camera angle and call set-up, you can start to think about your Zoom interview attire. In 2021 – 2022, research revealed that only 37% of employers would expect men to wear a tie to a job interview, and that just 26% of employers require a formal dress code.
Do Your Research
Doing some research on the company is probably already part of your interview preparation. Why not add some dress-code research to the list to help you decide what to wear for a Zoom interview? If the company is active on social media, take a look to see if you can find some photos of current employees. This will give you an idea as to the formality of the office.
You need to aim to fit in with the company culture, so that the interviewer sees you as a natural addition to the team. You may be able to look at photos of the team on the company’s website, and read their values to make sure they’re aligned with your own. Is the company minimalist, classic, trendy, or casual? All of these things will factor into the dress code of the business.
Your aim should be not to imitate the company dress code, but come up with an outfit that shows you understand the company culture. With new guides and interviews about remote working every single week, NoHQ provides valuable insights for those who hire remotely and those who work from home.
Dressing for the Industry
If the information about the company dress code online is limited, you can follow some general guidelines on dressing for the industry you are interviewing for.
If you work in education, a bit of pattern or colour in your outfit can make you look fun and approachable. If you are interviewing for a consulting position, you’ll likely want to keep it slightly more formal with a button-up shirt and blazer making a great option for any gender.
If you’re interviewing for a job in the fashion industry, you’ll want to show off your personal style (well, as much as you can from the waist up!). A bit of colour and interesting textures will go a long way to making sure you’re memorable.
If you’re interviewing for a government position, you’ll want to go for something that makes you look professional, but that you feel confident in. A suit is a great option for this, and you should consider something fairly neutral in colour. If you want to incorporate some colour and personality, do this with the accessories.
In summary, dress for the job you want, not the job you have!
Consider the Brand Values
Most companies have a paragraph or two about their core brand values on their website or LinkedIn page. Make sure you have a read of these, and use them to influence your outfit decision about what to wear for a Zoom interview. For example, if a company’s brand values are more light-hearted and energetic you can head away from a traditional black suit and consider something a bit different.
What Colour Should I Choose for My Zoom Job Interview Attire?
Considering colour and contrast should be another important factor when thinking about what to wear for a Zoom interview.
Firstly, avoid wearing too much black as part of your Zoom interview attire. Especially if your background is also dark and your skin is lighter, as this can make you look a little bit like a floating head!
If you’re doing the Zoom interview using your computer webcam, which most people do, the camera will not easily be able to distinguish folds and textures in the black clothing, making it all blend into a sea of black.
In addition to this, very bright colours may also give your webcam a hard time. Colours like bright red and orange can cause overexposure, resulting in a slight haze around you. Bright white may also give off a glow as a result of the camera overcompensating, so it’s best to avoid this too.
Wearing colours that suit you and that you feel confident will go a long way to making you feel good about yourself in the Zoom interview. If you’re not sure of the colours that suit you best, a general rule is to go for colours that match well with your eye colour.
Repeating colours throughout an outfit is also a great way to make you seem more put-together. For example, if you wear jewellery, try mirroring the colour of your top with a pair of earrings, or the colour of your skirt or trousers with a scarf.
Feminine Zoom Job Interview Attire
Blouses & Shirts
A blouse or shirt is a staple for many. Button up to the top for a more professional appearance, and undo one or two buttons for a more casual look. You can dress it up with a smart jacket or blazer over the top. A good quality shirt is a very versatile piece; go for a lighter, neutral colour (not bright white) for a balanced on-screen look. Avoid too many busy patterns as they can be distracting.
Trousers & Skirts
Although they may not be a visible part of your Zoom interview attire, you should consider your trouser or skirt options too. Go for something comfortable so that you aren’t fidgeting during the interview, but keep it professional so that you feel confident in yourself.
Dresses & Jumpsuits
Many choose to go for an all-in-one piece as an easy outfit. This tends to work very well for a Zoom job interview, as long as you don’t go for too bright a colour or too busy a pattern.
Don’t be afraid to inject some colour and some personality into your accessories. As long as the accessories don’t detract too much from your face, they can help to make an outfit look more coordinated. Consider a light scarf for a formal appearance, or a pair of small earrings to complete your look.
Some are of the opinion that wearing formal shoes is taking it too far when attending a Zoom interview. However, a pair of shoes can make you feel more coordinated, and mimics what you would be wearing in an in-person interview. Make sure your shoes are comfortable if you’re going to do this!
Masculine Zoom Job Interview Attire
A good option for more masculine Zoom job interview attire is a classic button-down shirt. A versatile option means you have the chance to make it more formal, with a tie, or more casual by undoing a button.
If the job is much more casual, consider wearing a polo shirt or smart t-shirt. If the company you’re applying for is very formal, consider wearing a suit jacket over the top of the shirt for a more professional look.
Although it may be tempting to go for pyjamas on the bottom half, you’ll generally feel more prepared for the interview if you go with a classic pair of suit trousers, or a smart pair of jeans.
A bit of research on the company’s social media pages should give you a good indication as to whether you should wear a tie or not. At the end of the day, you need to make sure you’re comfortable in your choice. Wearing a tie is an opportunity to inject a bit of personality into your outfit that is otherwise quite difficult to do with more masculine clothing.
If you’re applying for a role working with children or in the entertainment industry, you could consider a tie with some colour or pattern. If you’re applying for a role in law or consulting you might want to opt for a plain colour that goes well with your background.
It can be tempting to ditch the smart brogues for a pair of fluffy slippers, but consider wearing some proper shoes as part of your Zoom job interview attire to make sure you feel more confident and put-together.
For more resources on remote working and Zoom interviews, check out NoHQ.