When there is a big job on the line and many qualified candidates from all over the place, it makes a lot of sense that a company might opt to do at least some of the preliminary interviews via Zoom or other teleconferencing systems. It's also possible that you are interviewing for a job in a different city, state, or even country and that traveling for an in-person interview might not make sense unless an offer is on the table. So now the question is: how do you make a good impression when you can't shake a hand and when your interviewer is only looking at a small square of you on a screen? While there is doubt you are limited, there are more options than you think, even if no one can tell how cute that dress you are wearing really is. Here are tips and outfits for putting your best self forward for a Zoom interview.
Lights, Camera...Before the "Action!" come the lights and the camera. If you don't manage these elements properly, the interviewer will have a distorted view of you if they can see you at all. Then, almost everything else you do to try and make a good impression likely won't work either.
First is the camera. If your camera doesn't work, it doesn't matter what you wear. Make sure your computer and camera are functional by doing a test run with a friend or family member. Have a backup coffee shop location or a mobile hotspot if your internet connection is spotty or questionable. Next, work on aiming your camera properly. If it is pointed at your lap or above your head, that won't work. If it is zoomed in so much so that all you are is a nose, that also won't work. And, as anyone who has ever taken a bad selfie knows, the camera angle matters.
Second, the lights. Ideally, you will be in front of a window on a cloudy day with natural light illuminating you and your background. If that isn't the case, you get to try and figure out how to manufacture it. If there isn't enough light, the interviewer can't see you at all. If you have a lot of light behind you, also known as being "backlit," you might have the cutest outfit in the world, but all you will be is a dark silhouette. If the light is straight overhead or directly underneath, you get creepy shadows that will ruin any look. It's a tough one, but good to work out now instead of an in-the-moment panic. Action! Now that everything works and you can be seen clearly, what are you going to wear? There are a few things to take into consideration.
You will only be seen from the waist up at most. At the least, you want your shoulders in the video so that you aren't just a floating head. So don't bother picking out cute shoes. Work on what you will wear on top and any accessories that might help you out. Consider what you are interviewing for and what sort of thing a person competent in that field would probably wear. Then match that concept with what in your wardrobe makes you feel confident.
Simple and neutral tend to be safe choices if you want to project a professional image. A white collared women's dress shirt with a grey blazer or a pink or cream blouse would deliver a calm and trustworthy impression. Putting your hair up or having a very under-control style also projects quiet composure. If you feel this kind of look is a little too serious and austere, use your jewelry to make things a little interesting. A bright sapphire pendant peeping out from the buttoned-up collar or big gold hoops could be nice touches. Since you are small on the screen, bigger jewelry just means it can be seen a little better. If you aren't sure, though, it's best to stick with small and simple.
If the job is more artistic, like marketing or design, a little creativity in your outfit is a subtle way to communicate your abilities. Work a little color or pattern into your look with a colored blazer over that white shirt or choose a women's blouse with delicate stripes or polka dots. As you probably know, specifying one piece or part of your outfit to draw the eye is best; otherwise, you look too busy. If that one piece is something on your shirt or blouse, keep your jewelry simple. If you really want to wear that crazy necklace, put it next to something a little more basic so it can stand out.
Your setting matters. You want to make sure you are distinct from whatever is behind you. For example, if you are sitting against a dark gray wall, wearing a women's white blouse can be a great choice. But if your background is a white wall, it will cause you to blend in and disappear. Look for colors that contrast with your background so that your interviewer's eye is drawn to you. Dark colors and jewel tones work well against white. If you have wood in your background or a dark wall, go with lighter pastels, creams, and whites. If your background is busy, keep your outfit simple. If your background is simple, a shirt with a pattern on it might really work.
All of these ideas are meant to draw the interviewer's focus to you and for you to feel confident in that attention. Now, do your best and get that job!