First impressions are always crucial when it comes to virtual job interviews… really any job interview for that matter! Sure, what you say and do throughout the entire interview matters, but there’s no getting around the fact that many of our opinions are formed within 1 second of meeting a person.
With in-person interviews, there are a ton of things interviewers can look for within this 1-second window to base their opinion on.
- How confidently did you enter the room?
- Did you make eye contact?
- What is your body language telling me?
- You get the idea.
With virtual interviews, there’s much less to go on. Your appearance, however, is one factor which you will need to consider. This guide will help you nail your appearance during your next Zoom video interview.
How To Put Your Best Foot Forward Over Zoom
Your Zoom background shouldn't be anyone's main focus during a virtual interview. If it is, it's probably either distracting your interviewer or detracting from the sense of professionalism you're trying to convey. In other words, less is more.
When it comes to choosing a background, there are two routes you can go down:
- Virtual Background: A virtual background is an image you choose to superimpose yourself upon during the interview. While people have done a lot of experimenting with interesting backgrounds over the course of the pandemic, it's probably best to stick with something simple and professional until you've landed the job. Here are a few professional Zoom backgrounds from Unsplash to get you started.
For instance, a bookshelf backdrop is a classic choice for many remote workers.
- Real Background: A real background is whatever happens to be behind you during the Zoom interview. You want to think about creating it a bit like staging a house. Your goal is to make the space convey certain (positive) traits about you to your interviewer. Make sure your background is neat and tidy, that it doesn't blend with your outfit, and that it looks aesthetically pleasing. Try to use neutral background colors to avoid distracting your interviewer.
Grooming is Crucial
Taking time to look presentable for an interview is an important part of facilitating feelings of sincerity and professionalism. Look, COVID-19 has really lowered the bar when it comes to haircuts and grooming, but that means a little effort will make you stand out even more!
For hair, get a cut if you need one, but don’t worry too much if you got one fairly recently or if it’s still behaving the way you’d like it to. Washing and styling it professionally will be more than enough.
On the topic of makeup, it’s important to understand that your webcam tends to make you appear fuzzy and washed-out. Makeup can actually be an effective solution to this problem! The way to do this is by laying it on thick and going for a matte look. That way, your features stay defined, and your expressions stay noticeable throughout the interview. This—in turn—helps improve communication with the interviewer.
Formal or Casual?
For a Zoom interview, the formality of your outfit should reflect the formality expected of company employees on a day-to-day basis. This helps your interviewer see you as a seamless fit and lets them know that you’ve done your homework. Bonus points for effort!
If the company is active on social media, have a look to see if you can find any photos featuring employees at the office. Make a mental note of what they’re wearing and see if you have anything in your closest that would fit in well.
Alternatively you can search on Google images for "COMPANY_NAME office". As you can see below, if you were interviewing at Stripe, it would be best to dress informally for the interview
Use Google Images to search for a company's dress code
Note: If you get the sense that the company is extremely causal (e.g., socks, sandals, and sweatpants), it’s probably best if you step it up a notch. Go for a t-shirt and jeans for now and enjoy the comfort once you’ve gotten the job.
Color and Contrast
When it comes to Zoom interviews, you want to stand out… but not too much. I know that probably isn’t the most helpful piece of advice you’ve heard, so let me elaborate. Essentially, you want to use color strategically as a way to bring attention to you without using so much color that you detract from what you’re saying.
A useful trick is by matching a few of the pieces in your outfit with the color of your eyes. Not only does this lead to some great looks, but it also helps draw the interviewer’s attention to your face.
Best Outfits For a Zoom Interview For Women
As a woman, dressing for an interview can be tricky… but it doesn’t need to be! As long as you take some time to plan your outfit (using the tips above and below), your Zoom interview should start off splendidly.
As we touched on above, the kinds of clothing you choose for your interview should mostly depend on the formality of the company in general. However, most companies will fall somewhere in the middle of the formal-casual spectrum.
With that in mind, here are a few recommendations:
- Choose pieces that look professional. Women have tons of great clothing options to choose from when they want to look professional. You could go for a dress, a top and khaki trousers, a skirt and button down—the possibilities are endless, so pick something that makes you feel great!
- Aim for a clean look. Busy prints and patterns should not be staples in your interview attire, as they tend to distract the interviewer and detract from the things you’re saying (i.e., the things that should matter). If you need to include a pattern in your outfit, limit it to one if possible.
- Tone down the color. For the average Zoom interview, neutral colors like grays and off-whites are the way to go. At less formal companies, you'll have much more room to experiment with color and personality, but make sure you're careful when gathering evidence. When in doubt, tone it down.
Your accessories should fit in with the formality of the company culture, so make sure you think about which pieces will feature in your virtual interview.
Here are a few tips for arriving at the perfect look:
- Keep accessories to a minimum. Heavy and chunky accessories can be distracting, so light, minimal jewelry is a good way to go. For example, you could opt for a necklace or bracelet with lightweight charms.
- Go for options that are simple and professional. These kinds of pieces are universally flattering, so they're guaranteed to work with your outfit.
- The same rules apply to makeup. You want it to look natural, so avoid bright colors and heavy foundation. Just try to keep your look as polished as possible!
Outfits for men in a Zoom Interview: Tie or No Tie?
For men, there are two things that need to be taken into account: suitability and comfort. The suitability part is pretty straightforward—just make sure you wear something that looks mature and professional.
Comfort is a bit trickier, as everyone has their own definition of ‘comfortable’. But if you want to make a good first impression during your Zoom interview, pay attention to these tips:
Match the formality of the occasion. It’s incredibly important that you match the formality your interviewer is expecting. Here are some guidelines based on the formality of the company to help you out:
- Casual: A sweater, t-shirt, or polo shirt paired with jeans or chino trousers.
- Business Casual: A colorful or patterned button down paired with neutral chino trousers.
- Business Professional: A button down and tie paired with dress pants. Feel free to include a bit of color!
- Business Formal: A button down, tie, and 2-piece suit. Try to stick with neutral tones!
While how you groom is largely up to you, there’s one thing you should keep in mind prior to your interview—hair length. Thankfully, our societies are starting to move on from the belief that the length of your hair says anything about your ability to do your job well.
However, you’ll still run into people who feel that long hair is unprofessional. If you think that might be an issue at the company you’re hoping to work for, we recommend getting a trim and slowly growing it back out once you’ve landed the job. If you do decide to keep it long, make sure you wash and style it in a way that looks neat.
Also, once you have your outfit strategically laid out, please don't overlook the minor details like laundering. Wrinkles can show up on webcams, and they instantly detract from the polish of your look!
How to Prepare For a Zoom Interview
Job interviews can be intimidating. That’s true whether your interview is taking place at the company’s HQ or in your home office. While feeling a bit nervous can actually be a good thing when it comes to performance, you don’t want to let your worries get the better of you. With that in mind, let’s talk about preparation!
Here are a few things you’ll want to do in the days leading up to your interview:
- Learn your way around Zoom. If you’re not too familiar with Zoom, the best thing you can do to put yourself at ease is spending a bit of time figuring out how the system works before your interview. We recommend hopping into a call with a friend to get acquainted with the platform. You don’t want to be configuring your access permissions at the last minute!
- Check your webcam. You definitely don’t want to get into the interview only to find that your webcam isn’t working. Log into Zoom before the interview to make sure it is—don’t forget to give Zoom camera access!
- Check your microphone. The same goes for your microphone. Call a friend and ask them how you sound. This will help ensure that your interviewer catches every word.
- Run through some interview questions. This point isn’t specific to Zoom interviews, but it’s still important. If you’re looking for example questions, 4 Day Week has guides for Facebook and Twitter you can work through!
- Make sure your internet connection is stable. You don’t want your video call cutting in and out every 5-seconds!
- Research the business and its culture. This will help you contextualize your potential role within the company and will allow you to ask more meaningful questions.
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