Video interviews are becoming increasingly popular due to globalization and as more professionals choose to work remotely. You may have an upcoming video interview scheduled with your potential employer instead of an in-person interview for different reasons. Understanding how to dress for a video interview and what to avoid may help you leave a good impression on your interviewer. In this article, we explore what to wear for a video interview, examples of acceptable attire, different types of video interviews, and other tips on succeeding in video interviews.
Right now, video interviews are becoming increasingly common in the hiring process, with video-conferencing software such as Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Teams exploding in popularity. If you have a video interview coming up but have never experienced the process before, it’s easy to feel intimidated and unsure of what to do.
What to wear to a video interview: General tips
Use the GoldenHour App to improve your lighting
While one of the many benefits of the video interview process is that you can do it from anywhere with a good internet connection, finding a space with good lighting for the call might be a struggle.
If your bedroom, living room, or home office does not have big windows to provide good natural lighting or light fixtures that keep you well-lit, you can try using the GoldenHour App, which is available to Mac users. This application allows you to use the sides of your computer screen to illuminate your face with a warm, rosy glow — much like the late-afternoon, golden-hour lighting everyone loves.
Choose the right colors to wear
While it’s understood that you should dress professionally for your video interview, what colors are appropriate? What colors will work on your webcam?
To look best in the camera, it’s better for job seekers to avoid bright colors and distracting patterns. Instead, opt for clothes that are neutral in color and do not blend in with the background, such as beige, grey, black, navy blue, etc. While most people associate white clothing with looking sharp and presentable, it may not be the best choice on camera. White clothing will appear brighter on the camera, making it difficult for the interviewer or hiring manager to keep good eye contact with you.
Conduct a trial run
It is highly recommended to preview your look on camera before the actual video interview. Record in front of a wall with neutral colors, avoiding wallpapers and distracting patterned walls. All the focus should be on you — not the background.
Position your webcam so that it’s at eye level when you sit down and be sure that you have sufficient lighting in the room so you can be clearly seen without shadows or too much backlight. Turn on all the lights in the room and close the curtains to prevent glare if you’re recording in the daytime. Record yourself for a few minutes to make sure that your interview outfit and environment look acceptable.
How should you dress from the waist down?
While the camera angle should show you from the waist up for the video interview, there is a possibility that you might have to stand up during the interview to reach for something or grab materials. Therefore, be sure to avoid a no-pants error!
You also wouldn’t want to be caught wearing your pajama pants or other inappropriate clothing. It is best to wear a professional skirt or pants throughout the interview, even if you don’t think you will be standing up.
What is an acceptable video interview dress code?
Follow these tips to learn what an acceptable video interview dress code is:
Research the company and industry-standards
To find out how to dress for your video interview, you may research the company and its industry. Interview dress codes may be different depending on the company and the industry. For instance, if your video interview is for a financial advisor position at a bank, it’s important that you wear a proper suit and shirt.
But if you’re interviewing for a teaching position, it may be acceptable to wear a sweater on top of a shirt, instead of wearing a suit. Even in the same industry, companies’ dress codes differ according to their corporate policies. Hence, it’s important to look up any policies and comments on the dress code of the company you’re interviewing with beforehand.
Aim to always dress in professional attire
Even though you can dress slightly differently based on the company and its industry, it’s important that you still dress as professionally as possible to impress your interviewers. While your interviewer can only see your top half in a video interview, it’s a good idea to wear full professional attire from head to toe to avoid any unnecessary embarrassment. Professional attire usually means a suit or blazer, a shirt, dress pants, or a skirt. Generally, it’s acceptable to wear plain pieces of clothing in soft, neutral colors, but you may avoid wearing bright colors and busy prints.
From the interviewer’s point of view, dressing professionally indicates that the candidate is respectful and willing to put in the effort to succeed in the interview. From the candidate’s point of view, dressing professionally can increase your confidence, which can help you answer interview questions more effectively.
Try to dress the same as you would for a face-to-face meeting with a prospective employer. Not only does this make you look more attractive in the eyes of your employer, but it also makes you feel more confident, which in turn enhances your ability to perform well and answer video interview questions more effectively.
It’s also important to ensure you coordinate your top and lower half. While your interviewer will typically only see your top half, you never know when an unexpected circumstance may arise that requires you to stand up or appear in full frame. Don’t get caught out wearing shorts or worse, as this will absolutely make a poor impression on your interviewer.
Ditch the striped or patterned shirts – Your favorite striped work shirt might look amazing in person. However, on the camera, it might create a strobing or flickering effect, which can be incredibly distracting for your interviewer. This is particularly the case if your laptop camera is of lower quality, or you’re wearing a necktie with smaller diagonal stripes.
The main culprit here is narrow stripes, so opt for a shirt with a less distracting pattern — or wear a plain shirt instead.
Below is a list of example pieces of clothing that are acceptable to wear in video interviews:
- Plain suit jacket in dark colors such as black, dark blue, and grey
- Plain blazer in dark colors
- Plain or lightly patterned suit trousers in dark colors
- Plain or lightly patterned button-down or dress shirts in light colors such as white and light blue
- Plain or lightly patterned skirts in dark colors
- Plain or lightly patterned dresses
- Plain or lightly patterned ties
- Closed-toe dress shoes in dark colors
- Plain accessories in muted colors
- Plain sweater in light or dark colors
Wear plain accessories
If you wish to wear accessories such as belts, watches, and jewellery, make sure that you choose pieces that look conservative and are neutral colors such as white, black, grey, and tan. Wearing bright and flashy accessories may not be appropriate for video interviews as they may be distracting to the interviewer. It’s also important to only wear one or two pieces of accessories as this can make you look more tasteful and professional than wearing several pieces of accessories.
Remove any distracting elements
Sparkly jewellery might help you stand out in person. However, in a video interview, they’re simply a distraction for your interviewer. You want the hiring manager to be 100% focused on what you have to say, rather than getting distracted by the glare from your earrings or the details of your necklace.
This isn’t to say you have to forgo jewellery altogether. A simple necklace or an elegant bangle can add to your air of professionalism — just reserve the shiny trinkets for a call for friends or a day in the office (once you land the job).
Set up your surroundings
During video interviews, it’s also crucial to pay attention to where you sit and what the background looks like on screen. If you’re having the interview at home, make sure you’re in a quiet space or room, away from potential noise and distraction. Then, set up your laptop to face a neutral background, such as a wall or a door. You may temporarily remove any furniture, art pieces, or pieces of clothing in the background that might deflect your interviewer’s attention away from you.
You may also wish to coordinate your attire based on the color of the background. If your background wall or door is white, it might be a good idea to wear clothing in darker colors to avoid blending into the background.
Coordinate with your surroundings
During a video interview, you have complete control over your environment and your background. Because of this, you can plan where you’re going to conduct the interview ahead of time — and ensure your outfit complements your surroundings.
If you’re doing the interview against a white wall, try to avoid wearing a white or cream-colored shirt as this might cause you to blend in with your backdrop. Opt for a healthy amount of color contrast to ensure you stand out just enough during the call. This is particularly important if you’re planning to use a Zoom or Microsoft Teams background, as similar colors might cause you to interact strongly with your backdrop.
Record yourself or practice with a friend
To have a better idea of how you look on the screen, you can choose to either record yourself having a mock interview or practice with a friend online. You may wear the same attire that you intend to wear on your actual interview and stay in the room against the background that you wish to use. You can record on the device that you’re going to have the interview on, such as a laptop, to make sure that your device works well. Afterward, look back at your recording and see if anything needs adjusting.
At the end of the day, the secret to how to do video interviews is to be prepared and do a trial run before the big day. If you’re not sure whether your attire works, there’s a simple solution: Record yourself wearing your interview clothes on the device you’re going to use, against the backdrop you’re going to use. When you play it back, you’ll likely spot some room for improvement.
If you’re practicing with a friend, ask your friend to pay attention to your attire and gestures throughout the mock interview. Ask for feedback from your friend after the interview and to see the areas that you did well and areas that need improvement.
Video interviews offer a significant advantage over in-person meetings. Primarily, you’re in control of your environment, so you can set it up in exactly the way that you feel comfortable. However, this control also means that you need to be more considered in a number of areas, including your backdrop, your body language, and your attire.
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