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Zoom Interview Attire: What (and What Not) to Wear

person with Zoom interview attire waving at screen

You’ve accepted your Zoom interview invite, but then the fear creeps in — what Zoom interview attire do you wear? In this guide, we’ll help you figure out what to wear for a virtual interview so you can look (and feel!) your best on camera. We’ll cover:

What to Wear on a Zoom Interview

Work dress codes often focus on the concept of being “professional.” But what does that mean in practice — and how can it help you find the proper Zoom interview attire?

To some, “professional” conjures up traditional images of men in suits working on Wall Street. Indeed, in certain industries, this conservative idea of professionalism still holds. However, as more workplaces move toward more inclusivity, diversity, and casual dress codes — 1 in 2 workplaces now consider their dress codes “casual” — there are still ways to be professional without wearing a suit or detracting from your identity and personality.

“It can help to imagine yourself as a brand,” Dustin Ray, hiring expert, co-CEO, and chief growth officer of Incfile, says. “Ask yourself, what message do you want to convey? What are your values, strengths, and attributes? These can be communicated by what you wear.”

Studies show that the clothes you wear can directly impact how others perceive your level of professionalism. They can also affect how you see yourself.

At the core, “professional” Zoom attire means you look put together, clean, and presentable. You shouldn’t have stains on your clothing, or have your hair look like you just rolled out of bed. It should be obvious that you’ve put some effort into your presentation.

So, how does this translate to clothing items? Button-downs, blouses, blazers, and sweaters are the most common professional items to wear on top. Professionals usually wear slacks, dress pants, and skirts on the bottom, yet some might wear jeans to work if their company follows more of a casual dress code.

The best Zoom interview attire is clothing that matches the level of professionalism at the company and feels comfortable to you.

How Professional Should You Dress for a Zoom Interview?

One of the best ways to decide what to wear for a job interview is to research the company dress code. Look on the company’s website to see if there are pictures of people in the office or any news or statements about its dress code online.

A company’s culture is your best insight into how professional you should dress. For example, if it’s more relaxed and casual in its communication — using “hey” and “hi” instead of “greetings” and “dear” — chances are the company follows a more relaxed dress code.

There are four main types of dress codes that companies follow:

Business Formal

If the term “professional” conjures up images of Mad Men, you’re likely thinking of business formal dress codes. Business formal is the most conservative, traditional, and strict dress code. People wear suits and pantsuits, often accessorized with more luxury items like cufflinks and high heels. For a Zoom interview, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to dress this formally.

Business Professional

A slight step down from a business formal dress code, business professional captures the everyday dress code of many traditional fields like finance and accounting. Suits and pantsuits might be more common, but often without suit jackets, ties, or luxury accessories. If you’re interviewing for a more traditional company, this might be the dress code to follow.

Business Casual

No need for a suit in a business casual dress code, but don’t run to grab your new jeans, either. Dress pants with blouses, polo shirts, and collared shirts fit into this category. As the name suggests, business casual is a middle ground between more informal clothing and traditional business attire.

Casual

Employees who follow casual dress codes often dress down and wear clothes infused with their style. This dress code includes jeans, simple shirts, casual dresses, and sneakers. Although this dress code is much more relaxed and comfortable, clothes you’d casually wear running errands or working out still aren’t acceptable.

When it comes to professional settings, it’s usually better to be overdressed than underdressed. So even if you think the company has a casual dress code, try to play it safe and err on the side of business casual.

Should You Dress the Same for a Zoom Interview as In Person?

Yes! You should choose the same attire as you would for any other interview. Even the shoes you wear for a Zoom interview are important. Although the interviewer likely won’t see most of your outfit, what you wear during the interview can impact how you present yourself and how confident you feel.

When deciding what to wear, choose an outfit you’d wear if the interviewer were going to show up at your door and meet you in person. You never know when you might get up during the Zoom interview to grab a document or reach for your glass of water. You don’t want the hiring manager to see pajama bottoms.

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What Not to Wear in a Zoom Interview

Anything widely accepted as “unprofessional,” including profane graphics and words and overly revealing tops, is typically off-limits regarding Zoom attire. Yet once you know what dress code to go with, there aren’t necessarily specific items that are off-limits.

Some experts recommend sticking to neutral colors in an interview, often for fear that bright colors or patterns will distract from your face in the video. However, if your outfit doesn’t affect your camera view, there’s no need to dull your outfit or accessories. Don’t be afraid to show off your favorite color or wear an accessory you love — as long as you’ve checked how it looks on Zoom first.

Before the Interview: Zoom Interview Attire Key Tips

Check Your Lighting

You might have the perfect outfit in natural light, but the second you join the Zoom meeting and your computer’s artificial light glows, your shirt looks a different color, or a small stain you didn’t notice is now totally obvious. Lighting can drastically change how your face, hair, and outfit look on camera, so make sure to do a quick test run before you officially join your Zoom interview.

If you wear glasses, be aware of how the light from the computer can create a glare on your lens. While you shouldn’t go without glasses, stay mindful of what’s reflected on the screen. If you’re using notes, you might not want your interviewer to see sticky notes in your glasses’ reflection.

Practice Your Look Sitting Down

“Try all the outfits you are considering, sitting down on a rehearsal zoom call to see how they look,” Patti Wood, body language expert and author of “Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language & Charisma,” recommends. “Does everything fit without pulling, gapping, or tugging on the button? Does it look too big or bulky? Next, pull down your jacket, shirt, or dress down in the back.”

Your outfit might look great in the mirror and with your Zoom lighting, but it’s best to get in the chair you’ll be interviewing in and see how you look on camera before joining the meeting.

Get the Right Camera Angle

The best camera angle on Zoom is one where you can fully see your face and shoulders. You should be able to make direct “eye contact” with the camera and appear as if you’re looking directly at the interviewer.

Ensure the angle doesn’t accidentally reveal any skin or parts of your body that you don’t want the interviewer to see.

Clear Your Background

Your background, like your lighting, has the potential to change how your clothes look on camera. If your background is blurred, ensure your outfit doesn’t blur too. If you’re wearing a pattern, beware of creating a moiré pattern. A moiré pattern is a wavy geometrical design that can be distracting and offputting when you’re on camera, like this moiré shirt example.

If this is happening to your shirt, Zoom recommends trying a few different setting changes:

  • Settings > Video > Camera > Uncheck “HD”
  • Settings > Video > My Video > Adjust for Low Light

You can also change your background, lighting, or shirt to stop this from happening.

Zoom Attire: The Bottom Line

The best Zoom interview attire makes you feel comfortable and confident while matching the company’s professional guidelines. When in doubt, always dress more formally than you think you might need to; it’s much better to be overdressed than underdressed. Finally, do a “dress rehearsal” before logging on to the official interview to ensure your outfit looks its best with your lighting, camera angle, and background.

Find more interview advice and tips on the Forage blog, including the top interview questions to ask and crush your interview with Comcast’s Unspoken Interview Fundamentals Virtual Experience Program.

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