As virtual job interviews become increasingly common, learning some basic tips and tricks for digital dress codes is a smart move. While the format may be different, you’ll still want to project confidence with your clothing choices.
Before any interview, you’ll want to research the company and the specific position for which you’ve applied. At the same time, try to glean some information about their employee dress code. The old adage is that it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed, and in most cases, that’s true. But showing up to a virtual interview in a suit when the other attendees are wearing T-shirts might feel awkward — and it might appear that you didn’t bother to learn about the company culture. Knowing whether you should aim for informal, business casual, or formal business attire will help you determine specific clothing choices.
There’s one obvious perk that comes with virtual interviews — only your top half will be seen! Take stock of your current closet options when it comes to short-sleeved tops, button-ups, sweaters, etc. If casual is the name of the game, a simple women's blouse, tunic, or sweater is a nice choice.
For added visual interest, layer your look with a structured jacket or women's cardigan. For a more formal interview, consider traditional garments like dress shirts and blazers. Simple summer dresses can be elevated with a jacket, cardigan, or chambray shirt as well. A cotton fitted tee paired with a classic blazer delivers a fun mix of casual and formal.
Accessories: The icing on the cake. While we love actual cake, we recommend a “less is more” approach when it comes to accessorizing for a virtual interview. Scarves are a great way to add depth to your look but try to avoid bulky fabrics or busy patterns. Keep jewelry subtle and distraction-free; the interviewer should be focused on all the amazing things you’re saying, not on jingling bangle bracelets. If you’re a habitual hair twirler or are in between a bangs grow-out, you might want to consider an interview-style that will keep your hair away from your face. Again, clearing these small distractions will help all parties stay focused on what’s important.
So about that pants situation … What do you wear when no one will see? There’s nothing wrong with sticking to your business wardrobe, of course. A nice pair of dress pants, dark wash jeans, or structured khakis might help you feel more professional and focused on the interview. On the other hand, there’s also no harm in keeping it comfy with a blazer on top and women's joggers on the bottom. Leggings, sweatpants, and lounge shorts are great options for comfortable on-screen interviews.
Remember a few standard onscreen tips to look your best during your virtual interview. First of all, be aware of the lighting where you plan to sit. Face any windows so that bright, direct light is not at your back. Turn on overhead lighting for an even light source; you’ll want to avoid lamps that create uneven angles or shadows. Test your camera ahead of time to be sure your computer is positioned correctly.
Wear colors that compliment your skin tone (which you’re probably doing anyway!) and colors that won’t fade into the background. Certain looks appear a bit stark in a virtual setting — deep blacks and blues can lack depth on camera. Test your interview outfit by scheduling a quick video call with a friend.
If you have an office at home, you’re probably set when it comes to the physical setting of your virtual interview. If assembling the home office of your dreams is still on your to-do list, take some time to think about where you’ll log in for interviews. There are the practical issues: do you need a wider surface area for a desktop computer, or will any nook do for your laptop? Does your Wi-Fi work everywhere in your house, or are there dead spots to avoid? Where is the best lighting? Where can you find the least amount of background noise?
And then there are the cosmetic issues: what can be seen behind you? Yes, with most digital meeting apps, you can bypass the actual space and insert a fake background — but it’s very obvious, and often results in a “bad photoshop” vibe. Or worse, it might lead your prospective employer to think you have something to hide! Instead, clean up your interview area and present a professional, natural atmosphere.
You’ll want to strike a balance between clutter and an empty void; a bit of artwork on the walls behind you is a nice touch, or throw pillows tucked in by your seat. Much like layering your outfit creates visual interest and depth, layering objects within the room can do the same. Casually drape a knitted, cashmere, or fleece blanket over your desk chair or adjacent furniture for added depth and warmth.
Virtual interviews may not come as naturally to you as traditional in-person meetings, which is understandable; there’s a whole new set of social rules to learn and master. And that’s okay! With practice, virtual spaces will become easier to navigate, and confidence in your interview wardrobe and setting will only help.