In this guide, we are going to discuss how to dress and prepare for an online or zoom interview in the age of the pandemic, so that we maximize our chances of return to employment and taking back control of our lives.
With face to face interviews now a distant reality, the proliferation of online / zoom interviewing has meant that we have to adjust our skillset to the times. While dressing and preparing for an online interview may seem largely the same as for a traditional interview, it is worth covering dress attire, online interview prep and the actual interview itself.
Contrary to popular belief, dressing to the nines is just as important in an online interview setting as it is in a face to face setting. What needs to be minimized are louder colors and patterns. While we would shun those in a traditional interview setting anyway, they do have more of a place in a traditional interview setting, relative to an online interview setting. Lighting, screen resolution and the interviewers increased need to carefully listen to your responses necessitate a cleaner, sharper look that minimizes any complexity.
While a zoom interview differs from a traditional interview in that the interviewer is only able to see you from waist up, it is in your best interest to dress as if you are attending an in person interview. While, as mentioned above, we will suggest keeping cleaner lines so as not to detract from the interview experience, being fully dressed up will make you feel more confident and put together on the big day!
Men’s Formal Interview Attire
Suit & Dress Shirt
For formal attire, we would suggest wearing a classic, solid navy or charcoal grey suit. A navy blue suit is said to inspire confidence in the wearer, and will make you come across as friendly, open and trustworthy, all critically important characteristics of an employee with integrity!
Alternatively, a conventional and dapper option is a charcoal grey suit. Providing a neutral, unassuming look, a charcoal grey suit can make you look the part on interview day!
Regarding your dress shirts, a white or blue shirt will provide the perfect canvas upon which to strut that fancy tie of yours.
When dressing for an interview, in order to detract from being too loud, you generally want to opt for conservative ties that are solids, striped or have a foulard / geometric (repeating pattern in them) pattern. Please note that the tip of your tie should reach your belt buckle (again, while this won’t be seen in the interview setting, having all your t’s crossed and i’s dotted will make you feel like you own the day!).
While a four in hand generally suffices during an interview setting, learning how to tie a half or full windsor knot will make you feel better dressed on interview day, which should lead to a more confident outlook.
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot's range of interview ties.
Avoid socks that show leg! Additionally, opt for socks that match the color of your shoes.
Yes, we know that your zoom interviewer will not be able to see your swanky shoes. But having them on will translate into a more coherent, polished look that will allow you to focus strictly on the questions at hand. With a navy or charcoal grey suit, you can opt for cap toe brown or black oxfords. Remember to opt for rounded shoes if you can, as they provide a more professional look than their square toed counterparts.
Courtesy of www.indochino.com
Men’s Business Casual Interview Attire (e.g Silicon Valley – if in doubt, please ask HR ahead of time)
If you are applying for a role with a business casual dress code, and HR has specifically stated that the interview will be conducted in business casual attire, it is in your best interest to show up well dressed and on the conservative end of the spectrum. Chino’s, khakis or cotton pants will work, along with a tucked in well pressed shirt.
Opting for a blazer can help transition your business casual attire to the more formal end (and safer end) of the spectrum. A blazer provides the perfect look for more formal business casual attire.
Neckties can be considered optional when dressing business casual. We would suggest wearing a plain white pocket square with a solid silk or knit tie.
To view The Dark Knot’s range of silk and linen pocket squares, please click here.
Courtesy of www.lyst.com
Women’s Formal Interview Attire
For women, just as with men, dressing your best should stand out as a professional priority. Your choice of interview attire will be viewed as an indicator of how seriously you are taking your job application process. The below guidelines should have you looking professionally dressed for the big day:
A darker, two piece navy, grey or black suit should you be your preferred choice of interview attire, particularly when dressing within a conservative setting. Try and avoid spaghetti straps and tees under your jacket. Please note that women can pull off a black suit significantly better than men given varying options with lighter blouse colors, which help create the perfect level of contrast.
Pantsuit vs Skirt Suit
Whether you opt for a pant suit versus a skirt suit, it is imperative that you look and feel professional on interview day.
A white or lighter colored tailored shirt will pair perfectly with any of your suit options, leaving you looking the part for the big day! You can opt to dress up your look with a necklace or other piece of conservative jewelry.
While your shoes will not be seen in an online / zoom interview, the goal is always to look and feel your best on interview day. Hence, a mid heel, closed toe pump should suffice.
Courtesy of www.tmlewin.com
Women’s Business Casual Attire
Just as with men, women should treat business casual attire with a hint of caution. Khaki, twill or cotton pants will suffice, along with a shirt or blouse, and sweater or cardigan (weather permitting). Solid colors should be chosen in favor of brighter, stronger patterns.
Courtesy of www.freshideen.com
Online / Zoom Interview Preparation & Interview Tips
While preparing for a zoom interview is much the same as a traditional interview, getting adjusted to your software and settings will require some additional preparation.
PRIOR TO THE INTERVIEW
1. Get Acquainted With The Technology
If you haven’t already downloaded zoom (gasp!), ensure that it has been downloaded ahead of time (zoom is available for both mobile and desktop / laptop users on the zoom website). Make sure that you have the meeting link and access code from your potential employer. If this information hasn’t been provided ahead of time, please ask for it.
Test your own hardware – are your microphone and webcam working smoothly? Ensure that everything is in working order so that you avoid any last minute hiccups.
2. Practice looking at your webcam when speaking
In line with point no. 1, but its importance necessitates having its own section. Practice looking at your webcam when speaking, and not at the screen. It is imperative that you come across as professional, and part of that is looking at your interviewer while speaking. Looking at the screen is going to make you appear like you’re looking away from the interviewer – a sign of lack of preparedness, nerves or both.
3. Setting up a distraction free zone
As important as getting acquainted with the technology is setting up a distraction free zone or room in your house. Pick a spot that is quite and distraction free.
Eliminate and avoid visual distractions that will detract from the interview. While having a piece of art hanging behind you is perfectly acceptable, several posters of shelves full of books can prove to be distracting.
Ideally, you want the interviewer to focus on and you’re responses. Unnecessary distractions in the room will impede the flow of the interview, and most importantly, detract from you being the centerpiece of the process.
Similar to visual distractions, you want to show the windows in your room to block out all auditory distractions such as lawnmowers, vehicles etc.
If you have kids, ensure that they don’t interrupt the interview!
4. Double check the date, time and time zone
The last thing you need is to miss your interview because of a time zone mixup. Double check the email from the employer and ensure that the right time (adjusted for time zone) has been set on our calendar! While this is a simple step, it will help you avoid potential hassle and embarrassment.
5. Set The Right Background
While a clean home office or room with a desk should suffice, if the location you are using is too messy, consider using one of Zoom’s professional virtual backgrounds! Again, as with all other interview preparation, this should be selected ahead of time, so that you are not trying to create your interview background during the interview itself!
6. Prepare the night before the interview
Yes, preparation starts the night before. As we often say, celebrities are people that are rewarded publicly for habits they work on privately. Same goes for your success. Preparing your attire (discussed above) the night before your interview will work wonders. The night before, have your suit, shirt and pants ironed and laid out, along with your socks and polished shoes (yes, even though this is a zoom interview we’re talking about!).
Additionally, prepare a copy of your resume as your interviewer will be working through various bullet points so that you can describe your previous work experience. Having a printed copy of your resume that you can quickly glance at and reference if needed will ensure that you don’t stumble talking about your own work experience!
7. Prepare answers to questions you anticipate
Now that your technical and clothing concerns have been taken of, its time to get to the meat of the preparation!
Looking for where to start? Try thinking about potential concerns that your prospective employer may have about your background in general. For example, they may want to know why you left your last job, or why you’re looking to switch industries.
Anticipate the questions they’re likely to ask, and you are bound to feel more confident and relaxed walking into that interview!
8. Write down questions to ask them
Having thoughtful questions prepared will show your prospective employer that you have done your homework by researching the industry, the company you are specifically applying to and the role itself. Having a question regarding all three will show that you have thought carefully about the role that you are applying to.
Asking the right questions will almost always leave a good impression.
9. Arrive early to your interview
While arriving 10 minutes early for a traditional interview is considered good practice, arriving too early for a zoom interview could result in your interview clashing with another interview (if the same meeting link is being used). Therefore, show up early at your zoom interview, but only 2-3 minutes before your interview is scheduled to start.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
10. Maintain posture, calm & demonstrate affability
While demonstrating competence (below) will be limited how you answer questions and the type of questions you ask, exhibiting affability will be critical to all of your interactions throughout the interview process. Maintaining eye contact, exuding a relaxed yet confident demeanor, maintaining respect and asking questions will all help towards demonstrating a sense of trustworthiness, friendless and affability.
11. Responding and reacting during the actual interview
A critical component prospective employers will assess during the interview process is your competence and reasoning ability, which will demonstrate your ability to solve a problem based on context. How you respond to these questions and react will exhibit both your ability to understand the job on a technical level and whether you can respond to unforeseen situations in a calm and critical manner. The following guidelines should help:
- Answer questions as they are asked. Refrain from interrupting the interviewer when he / she is speaking.
- If you are unsure of the answer, clearly state that you do not know it. Nothing turns off an employer more than a false sense of confidence.
- When working through a technical question, there is no shame in telling an employer that you need a minute or two to think about it. Keep your head down if need be, and calmly try and work through the solution in you head. Often, the employer will encourage you by assessing whether you are taking the right approach.
12. Interview Conclusion and Final Questions
As the interview concludes, you will typically be prompted by the interview regarding any questions that you may have (which should have been prepared ahead of time!). When asking questions, the key is to avoid coming across as arrogant. Instead, your questions should showcase your strong interest in the position, a willingness to learn and your desire to grow within the company.
And that's a wrap for this one! We hope that you have found this article both enjoyable and informative.