Artwork by: Olga Aleksandrova
Dress to impress on a Zoom interview: professional, groomed, and contrasted correctly with color and lighting. We will help you decide on the right Zoom interview attire to make a lasting impression. In a good way!
Zoom is a communications software product developed in 2012 as a way for people and businesses to connect via video conferencing, audio, phone, and chat.
It became more popular during the past two years of the pandemic as businesses switched over to allow employees to work remotely from home. Now, many companies conduct job interviews remotely using Zoom. Therefore, it’s important to understand how to dress appropriately for a Zoom interview.
We’ll review some pointers on what to wear and what not to wear for a Zoom interview. Topics include:
Should I dress the same on Zoom as I would for an in-person interview?
What to wear for a Zoom interview
What colors look best on a Zoom interview?
What is a good background for a Zoom interview?
What not to wear in a Zoom interview
Present yourself in the best way possible
When you go for an in-person interview, you want to take care to present yourself well with a professional image. It should be the same for a Zoom interview. However, a few differences exist between what you wear in a virtual interview versus meeting in person. Knowing how to prepare your color scheme, background, and lighting for a Zoom interview is key.
Look at the company website of who is interviewing you to see if they have a stated dress code. Often, companies might describe a casual culture of relaxed attire. However, that doesn’t mean you should dress too casually for a Zoom interview. Instead, aim for business casual. You should feel comfortable, but this doesn’t mean you should wear jeans even if you think the interviewer won’t see your pants on screen.
What does “Dress for Success” mean anyway?
It means you understand how to align with the values of company culture when interviewing.
It means you can apply attention to important details.
It means you are sending a positive message about yourself.
Your best bet is not too formal (as in suits and ties or fancy dresses) yet not too casual (as in t-shirts and jeans). Choose the middle ground, which is pretty much what you’d wear to an in-person interview, i.e., shirts with a collar, nice blouses, and even polo shirts. Men and women can wear blazers over collared shirts to look business-like.
Of course, if you are doing an executive interview, you may want to dress more formally in a suit.
The contrast of colors between what you wear, the color of skin tone, hair color, makeup, jewelry, and the color of the wall behind you all can make for a great onscreen presence. Or it can look like a jumbled mess.
Just as you would brush your hair before going online in a video meeting, you want to prepare a clean and groomed look. Similarly, you want to ensure ahead of time that the color scheme is a good fit for the presentation.
For example, a fair-skinned person wearing a white top against a white wall in the background might appear too washed out. The camera focuses on the lighter color first in your Zoom box and will darken everything else, making a poor on screen contrast. Even pale shades of pink, ivory, or off-white will appear as white.
Conversely, wearing black or dark colors blends you into the background, making you look smaller. An interviewer won’t be able to read your facial expressions as clearly if the contrast is too dark.
Another color tip: Wearing too busy of a pattern on the top might also come across as dizzying, which is not a good look for on camera. Avoid busy patterns such as multi-color checks or zig-zags. Those patterns can distract your interviewer.
“The best colors to wear are bold, bright solid colors that contrast with your background. They are reds, fuchsia, blighter blues, turquoise, teal, and purples.” - Shelley Golden, “What is the Best Color to Wear on Zoom?”
Stick to solids, brights, or colors that match the color of your eyes. Wear a color that makes you feel confident. Go ahead and experiment with what is in your closet to find the right color match. Make a few videos for comparison. Once you find what works best for your color scheme, stick with it if you will be interviewing more than once.
It’s just as important nowadays to set up the correct background for a Zoom interview as it is to wear the right clothing. You don’t want a background distracting the interviewer from the central focus, which is you. Even if you blur your background, you might inadvertently blur your clothing so check by testing it before the actual interview.
Move objects out of view that can distract or appear too starkly contrasted. Keep it simple, with clean lines. You don’t want the interviewer to see anything they wouldn’t see in an in-person interview such as your collection of Star Wars figurines, as that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the focus of an interview. (It also doesn’t present you in a professional way.)
Did you know that traditional incandescent light bulbs are being phased out due to poor energy efficiency? They also emit greenhouse gasses making them environmentally unfriendly. Newer light bulbs are CFL (compact fluorescent) and LED (light-emitting diode). The best choice for your background lighting on a Zoom meeting is LED.
Keep in mind that the lighting from your monitor, your window, or overhead room lights can give the wrong tone to the light. If the light behind you is too bright, it will cause you to look shadowy. If there is not enough light in your room, the overall tone also can look too dim, which sends a problematic message. Sometimes even a yellowish tinge can appear from regular light bulbs in the room. You might want to try using LED lights to give off the correct light.
The best way would be to position a bright light at a 45-degree angle in front of you (behind your monitor), or set up with a big window in front of you to cast natural light onto you when on screen. Be careful not to have bright sun in your eyes, so adjust your window shades as needed. If you wear glasses, perform a test beforehand to ensure there is no glare on your lenses.
Mother may have told you to “sit up straight” and “don’t slouch” when sitting. She’s right. You don't want to come across as too laid-back in a video conferencing setting such as a Zoom interview. Slumping in your chair looks lazy.
You also don’t want to inadvertently chop off the top of your head by sitting too high. Make sure you adjust the height of your chair and computer monitor to position your upper torso in the center of the camera frame. You can also adjust your camera if that’s easier.
If you really want to be considered for the job, heed the tips for what not to wear, including:
T-shirts with logos or graphics
Anything that is too loud or can be considered offensive
Displaying cleavage would be a big no-no. While some think it might be okay to wear pajama bottoms and comfy slippers, remember to dress the part to make you feel like you are a successful professional, even if you think the interviewer won’t see what’s below the desk. You will exude confidence with the right attire.
You want to look neat and presentable, not like you just got out of bed.
We’ve given you clear tips and ideas on how to present yourself in the best setting for a Zoom interview. So don’t leave it to chance to plop yourself down in front of your computer, hoping the person on the other end sees you in the best way possible.
Prepare your setting beforehand just as you would prepare the correct resume to give to a potential employer. We know that you want to ace your interview questions to land the job, and we also want to ensure you are giving your best face forward when doing a Zoom interview.
Give the right image appearance when on a Zoom interview.
Wear colors that look flattering on camera.
Adjust your background and lighting to create the best onscreen view.
Dress to impress, but don’t be overly formal.
Stay away from looks such as old sweatshirts or offensive clothing.
Look well-groomed, polished, and professional.
Valerie is a seasoned freelance writer adept at content creation in diverse industries such as business, career, tech, and lifestyle. She specializes in helping professionals optimize their resumes and LinkedIn in order to rise in the ranks during their job search. Her passion is career development and using her unique blend of engaging & technical copy to help people make a positive impact on potential employers.