A young woman despairs that she must relinquish her sweatpants for the job interview.

So Long, Sweatpants – It’s Been Good to Know You

Did you fully buy into the “Era of Sweatpants” during the COVID quarantine? Some of us kept the sweatpants habit long after quarantine frankly and are finding it a little difficult to give up.

So even though it might still be a rare day that sees you completely change out of your joggers or pajamas, one place where comfy clothes (still) don’t belong is during your virtual job interview.

From the waist down you might still be able to enjoy the comfort of working-from-home sweatpants, your top half has to work twice as hard to make a good first impression during your virtual interview. I’ve put together these tips so that you can put your best face forward while looking professional, appropriate and flattering for your virtual job interview.

Early Bonus Tip

I advise my clients to always dress your bottom half as well even though your interviewer might not see your legs. There will be that one time when you get up to get something and your bottom half is still in your PJ’s. Well, I’m sure you’ve seen the recent commercials that reflect this folly.

  1. Match Your Attire for the Position You’re Interviewing for

Just because you are on Zoom (or GoToMeeting or whatever platform) does not mean that somehow you are excused from wearing the appropriate attire.

If your industry typically wears formal business attire, like a business suit, then follow suit (pun intended) and wear the suit to your Zoom job interview. Alternatively, if your industry allows more business-casual attire like chinos and a button-down shirt or a blouse and nice pants, then, by all means, go for it.

Visit the company website and check out the team and see what they are wearing. Even better? Ask the HR professional about what the appropriate attire would be for the interview. You can bet she/he won’t say, “Oh, just any ol’ thing will do.” If you have a favorite “lucky dress”, then show it to them by photo or on zoom and get their “okay”.

Having interviewed literally thousands of candidates over my years of being an Executive Recruiter, there is nothing that will set the wrong tone of an interview more than a wrinkled shirt, a tee shirt or a low-cut muscle shirt (man or woman!). Just don’t even think about it.

  1. Wear Solid Colors Rather than Busy Patterns

Solid colors are far more flattering on-screen. While busy patterns may be fun IRL (in real life), they are distracting to the viewer when you are on-screen. Your prospective employer is relying on reading your facial expressions on-screen, so it’s vital that your face is accentuated by your clothing rather than lost in it.

Black is elegant in an evening event but is rarely your best option for an on-screen interview. Remember the hiring manager is trying hard to make a connection with you by concentrating on your facial features.

That said, white may not be your best option either, especially if you have a white background. A bright white shirt + bright white background “blows the pixels” in the camera producing a glaring effect.

Instead, choose neutral or jewel-colors like navy, forest green, brown, even some reds. You probably have a favorite color or a color that everyone says you look great in. Choose that one and feel the confidence that comes through when someone compliments you.

  1. Be Well Groomed in Both Facial Hair and Make-Up

Again, because the interviewer is focusing on your face, it will be impossible for him/her to not notice a 5-o-clock shadow or a scruffy beard.

If you typically sport a rockin’ beard, don’t shave it off. Just make sure it is trimmed and in shape.

If it has been a while since you went to the salon for a color or cut. Put your hair up or pull it  back  to hide the gray or your roots.

Make-up should not be overdone, but extra mascara and a slightly darker lipstick will serve to accent those features and make it easier for your interviewer to connect with you.

  1. Simple Jewelry is a Smart Choice

Simple is best. Nothing that makes noise. No dangly earrings or bracelets.

A nice earring– less than two inches long — will serve to frame your face but not long enough to distract.

Crystal or metal bracelets might make noise by scrapping the desk or clack when you move your hands. If you have to wear a power bracelet, like the super hero that you are, make sure that it is of a softer material that does not risk being a noise-maker.

Remember, you have one shot to make it to the next step of the interviewing process. Why would you risk annoying your interviewer with a style of dress or make-up that says you don’t care enough to make the effort? Interviewers see the style of dress as a reflection of your job attitude; make sure he or she gets the message loud-and-clear that you are on top of your game.

Still unsure of what’s appropriate or what might offend an interviewer? Email me with your questions, and I’ll give you some quick guidance.

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