How not to dress for a virtual job interview

With an uprise in lounge and leisurewear, job seekers are having doubts about what to wear to their next virtual interview. According to Jobvite’s 2020 Recruiter Nation Survey, 80% of scouts use video in the hiring process, while 25% of candidates make the mistake of showing up in inappropriate interview attire.

We spoke with recruiters, a career strategist, and a style expert about what to avoid when it comes to dressing up for your next virtual job interview.

What should virtual candidates consider when selecting their interview outfits?

1. Wear pieces that help express your personality

Style Expert and author Morgan Wider said the number one mistake a candidate can make when it comes to their interview attire is being boring. “A black suit and a white shirt don’t tell the interviewer anything special about you, and it might make it hard for them to remember you,” she said. “Instead try a suit in navy with a bright tie or pocket square.”

Wider also recommends standing out from the crowd for the right reasons. “Lipstick choices can help to keep the focus on your face. A statement necklace also works wonders, but keep the other jewelry minimal.”

2. Don’t even think about loungewear

Some companies have loosened their dress codes while employees work remotely, but those same rules might not apply to applicants.

VP and Director of Talent Acquisition at Rubenstein Christina Stokes said there shouldn’t be much of a difference when it comes to dressing for an in-person or virtual interview. “Regardless of the field, I prefer to see candidates dress professionally – in neat business attire,” she said. “Once you accept an offer and start a job, it is fine to ask your new employer what is acceptable and recommended. People in more creative fields often have a more relaxed dress code, but it really depends on the organization. It is best not to guess – ask the question.”

Other recruiters like Jared Bowers, a senior talent acquisition specialist for an accounting firm, tend to be more lenient. “I haven’t seen loungewear worn, but I have seen casual wear. Depending on who you’re meeting with or what stage of the process you’re in, casual can be acceptable.”

3. Wear shoes during your Zoom call

CEO of Career Outcomes Matter Melissa Llarena said that dressing up in full interview gear is important and can help build your self-esteem. “A common attire mistake for job interviews via Zoom is not wearing confidence-boosting shoes,” she said. “Yes, no one will see them. However, how good do you feel when you wear your favorite pumps or oxfords?”

What are the common mistakes you’ve seen when it comes to candidates’ attire?

1. Oversized blazers are a no-go

Ill-fitting clothes not only look unprofessional, but they can also make you look older than you are. “The most important thing with any garment, but especially a suit, is to make sure it fits perfectly,” said Wider. “You don’t have to spend a lot on your clothes, but make sure to invest in a tailor. No matter how much you spend on an item, it will look cheap and you will look messy if it doesn’t fit you perfectly.”

Wilder said department stores are great to find a suit on sale. Vintage stores have unique blouses and jewelry, while chain stores like the Banana Republic & Ann Taylor are great for staples such as slacks and sweaters. Fast fashion stores like H&M also have some suiting basics like pants or pencil skirts.

2. Pants aren’t optional

Another major mistake is not getting dressed completely. “In case the doorbell rings or you need to stand up for some reason, you want to make sure the interviewer doesn’t see your boxershorts,” said Wider.

“Use your wardrobe to command attention and to look like you made an effort. Don’t get too comfortable just because you’re at home. It’s been scientifically proven that when we get dressed in clothes that signify professionalism (instead of sweatpants), our brains perform better.”