The virtual interview is becoming much more common within the corporate world. While the phone interview is a staple first step, the second interview, generally done in person, is something that isn’t always possible anymore. With the pandemic and the rise of remote work, meeting virtually is now the new norm.
Preparing for an interview nowadays presents different issues with new layers added to it; it’s not just your appearance that you need to pay attention to, but your meeting screen as well as your background. If you’re doing a virtual interview from home, which is the most likely scenario, remember the interviewer will get a glimpse of your personal life right there and then. You want to portray a professional persona while bathing yourself in the right light during the interview. So, how do you go about achieving this?
What you wear for a virtual interview will create a lasting first impression, and you want that first impression to wow the interviewers so much that they hire you!
We have six easy tips to guide you when considering what to wear for a virtual interview, so follow through with them for interview success!
1. Check out the culture of the company
Before delving into your closet and reaching for the smartest blouse or the latest trendy pin-stripe suit, check out the culture of the company where you want to work. You can do this by having a look around their website. Most companies have an “About Us” page. Focus on the type of dress that the employees are wearing in their photos and try to match accordingly.
If the recruiter has provided a dress code beforehand, perfect. Just follow those guidelines to the letter. If that hasn’t been forthcoming, a good default position is to lean more toward a conservative and professional outfit.
2. Dress for success
An interview is an interview, regardless of where it takes place. Dressing professionally for a virtual interview will put you in the right mindset for the meeting and show the interviewer that you take this very seriously. Confidence will grow if you choose to don dress pants instead of sweatpants or a button-down shirt instead of a graphic tee.
When deciding what to wear for a virtual interview, seek out a go-to outfit that you feel comfortable and confident in wearing to all of your interviews. Consider finding a top that you like and buying it in different colors to switch things up if you have a second interview with the same company. Even in the rare case where an interview is “cameras off,” dressing for success will make a world of difference as you are setting a tone of professionalism right from the start.
3. The glare factor
Glasses wearers know the struggles of whether to wear glasses or not for certain events; virtual interviews are no different. In the case of preparing for a virtual interview, your glasses may create a glare that distracts from the conversation at hand.
There are a few ways you can try and combat the glare factor. The first is to adjust the light source from your computer screen and the light in the room. Opening up a video screen to see how your glasses reflect before the interview starts will give you the opportunity to make adjustments as needed. By making these changes, however, you may find you are making it easier for the interviewer to see you but harder for you to see them based on the low level of light.
If glare is unavoidable and distracting, another option to consider is eliminating eyeglasses altogether and purchasing contact lenses to wear instead. Having these to hand can save you from worrying about the distraction of your glasses and means you will focus on the interview and the questions being asked instead.
If you choose to wear contacts, be sure to try them out before the interview. Hopefully, they will start to feel so comfortable that you won’t even notice you are wearing them. The last thing you want is to turn up at a virtual interview wearing your first pair of contacts, with red, uncomfortable eyes that take up more of your attention than the other person on the screen.
4. Focus on the bottom half
As we all know, the screens on laptops only show the upper part of a person when sitting down. So concentrating on that part of your body is the most important. However, don’t forget the bottom half.
For example, say you need to stand up to reach for a file, or you forgot to close the door, and the dog has started barking. The interviewer will see what you are wearing on your bottom half. It’s going to look really odd if you have on a smart shirt or blouse up top and then ripped jeans and flip-flops down below.
It’s essential that what you wear for a virtual interview matches. So wear a complete outfit down to the appropriate shoes.
5. Ensure everything fits well
Whether you choose to go for a button-down shirt, a suit, a blouse and skirt, or a blazer, make sure it all fits you perfectly and there are no loose bits of thread or itchy collars to contend with. The best way to try this out is to wear your outfit of choice for a day, or at least a few hours, sitting in front of a screen so you can avoid any issues during the actual interview.
6. What to avoid
Dirty clothes — it’s a no-brainer, really, but steer clear of any clothes that are stained or in good need of a wash. Turning up to an interview, whether in person or virtually, in unclean clothes will certainly give out the wrong impression as it implies that you are not that bothered and haven’t made an effort.
Outlandish accessories — while you want to show off your uniqueness, distracting accessories can be…erm…distracting! Massive earrings, shades, or a quirky hat might truly reflect your personality outside of work, but it will be all the interviewer can look at. It should be your words and comprehensive answers to questions that make you stand out from the crowd.
Pieces of clothing with large images or logos — the person interviewing you will probably only be able to see the top half of your upper body on screen. However, it’s worth avoiding wearing anything that has big logos or images on it and opting for a clean, understated look instead.
7. Curate your setting
Your appearance goes far beyond the clothes you wear and the hairstyle you choose during a virtual interview. The environment around you can also make an impression, so you want to make sure it’s a good one. Ideally, you will have a space in your home that you consider an office, but if that’s not available, it’s time to curate the perfect background.
You need to find a room fit for an interview, with a door you can close for privacy, a table or desk, and a wall that is appropriate for a background. Tidy up the room beforehand. Even if the interviewer can’t see most of the room, you will, and any clutter will be a distraction you can do without.
The wall that will be your background plays an important role. If there are items on the wall, expect them to be potential ice-breaking conversation pieces at the beginning of the interview. If there is something you aren’t comfortable with, remove it or utilize a pre-set virtual background that suits your style. Don’t wait until the last minute. Carefully select a suitable background prior to the interview to avoid any technical hiccups.
In the 15 minutes before each interview, be sure to do a spot check of everything around you — your clothes, your face, your hair, and your background. Ensure no part of your lunch is stuck in your teeth, as you want your beaming smile to make the best impression at the start. Keep your appearance natural and not forced, so it’s your abilities, and your abilities alone, that make the impact.
Deciding what to wear for a virtual interview can be stressful. Hopefully, these tips will help so you have one less thing to worry about. With the focus away from how you look, you’re free to concentrate on the important details: acing that interview!
Best of luck with your continuing job search.
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Elizabeth Openshaw, Editor & Content Writer, Elizabeth Openshaw, Editor & Content Writer
Elizabeth Openshaw is an Elite CV Consultant with over 12 years of experience based in Brighton, UK, with an English degree and an addiction to Wordle! She is a former Journalist of 17 years with the claim to fame that she interviewed three times Grand Slam winner and former World No.1 tennis player, Andy Murray, when he was just 14 years old. You can connect with her at Elizabeth Openshaw | LinkedIn.