Updated: Jul 6
Interviews are inherently stressful. You sit across from someone you just met. You answer their questions in real time. You try to impress that person with your experience in your allotted time. You nervous sweat. Like, a lot.
Interviewing virtually might seem like it’s more comfortable because it’s in the
confines of your own home, but what about that added layer of new stress? What if my wifi cuts out? What if the software doesn’t work and I look like I just don’t know how to work a computer? What if the people or pets I live with cause an unexpected ruckus?
Virtual interviewing is just as stressful as any other interview- just in different ways. That said, however, I want to ensure that putting together an interview outfit is the easiest part of your whole process.
1. Wear a full outfit
You never know what type of emergency may befall you during an interview. Your building’s fire alarm may go off, your children might need assistance, your cat might knock over your glass of water. Because there are many things beyond our control, I highly suggest wearing a full outfit to your virtual interview.
The added benefit of this approach is that you feel more fully prepared when you're outfitted head to toe in clothing that makes you feel confident, comfortable, and capable.
2. Go bright on top
In most cases, you (hopefully) won’t experience an emergency during an interview, which means that your top half will be the only thing that your interviewer sees. If you have a button up shirt or a blazer in a bright colour, now is the time to wear it (as long as you pair it with a neutral background).
I’m going to debunk a lot of outdated interview advice right now-wearing bright colours doesn't distract your interviewer. They make you memorable. Choose a colour that makes you personally happy and go with it. The energy that the colour gives you will provide you with a much-needed confidence boost.
3. Comfort is key
I talk with my hands so much that I often look like someone trying to land a plane in a snowstorm (something to work on, I know). Could you imagine if I wore something so restricting that I couldn’t move at all? You may have worn your share of ill-fitting clothing in the past. I sure have. The striped shirt with buttons that pucker, the blazer with tight arms that pinch whenever you move. Pants that you can stand in, sure, but sitting down comfortably is another matter altogether.
The last thing you want to do on a virtual interview is fidget with your clothing. Your interviewer is not with you in person, so they can’t observe your body language like they would be able to normally. Not only does fidgeting with your clothing make you look as uncomfortable as you feel, but that is what can actually distract your interviewer from the great point you’re making.
4. Dress one dress code above “casual”
Always treat a virtual interview like you would an in-person interview. If the dress code for the company you’re interviewing for is “open” or “casual”, I suggest dressing one step above that. This might mean “smart casual” or “business casual”. There are a couple of options you could go for here, and it’s all about balance. There’s the t-shirt/blazer/trouser combo. There’s the button-up shirt and dark jeans combo. It’s really up to you, but it’s important to fancy it up slightly for a professional interview even if it’s on video.
5. Test your outfit on the webcam ahead of time
You can love your outfit, but does it look the same on camera as it does in person? I recently gave a virtual presentation in a shirt I thought was perfect for the setting. When I went live, however, I realized that the oversized sleeves completely overwhelmed my entire upper body and looked confusing on camera. It distracted me the entire time.
The best thing you can do when you’re preparing an outfit for a virtual interview is to set up a test video call with yourself ahead of time. Sit how you would sit for an interview. Do a couple of hand gestures. From there, you’ll be able to tell whether you’ve picked the perfect outfit or need to go back to your closet and try again.
Are you interested in a post on examples of outfits for interviewing in the tech industry? Shoot me a message over on @mytechwardrobe on Instagram or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Some ideas for virtual interview outfits: