Now that most job interviews are taking place via video chat, I thought it might be useful to see what we can learn from television. If you've ever appeared on a TV news segment or talk show, you know that you can't wear just anything on camera. Some colors and prints look weird under TV lights, and others are downright distracting. In any interview, you want people to pay attention to your words so these tips are useful even for in-person interviews.
Dressing for interviews is tricky because it's so specific. You're going to be judged on your appearance, but your clothes shouldn't be too interesting. Your goal is to look smart as well as good.
Dress for your body shape
This is especially crucial for plus size women. If your clothes are too tight or too baggy in some spots, you're going to look sloppy which just plays into inaccurate stereotypes. You'll probably be physically uncomfortable, which is a distraction you don't need. You're being judged on your ability to dress appropriately for the job, and clothing that fits properly is part of that.
Don't wear black, white, or red
I know. You may need to lie down for a bit to recover from that one. Under television lights, white is too bright, black looks harsh, and red looks blurry. On a video chat, white and red are too eye catching, and black can just merge with the shadows. You may want to avoid these colors for an in-person interview - everyone wears black or red, and white looks different under different lights.
Wear these colors instead
Gray and navy are as understated as black, but are much more original. Depending on the industry, shades of brown may also be a good choice. But you don't have to stick with neutrals. There are sedate shades of blue, green, and purple that work well for on-camera and in-person interviews. Even bold shades of blue like Cobalt are a safe choice here.
Pastels look good on camera, but may be too delicate for an interview. Think understated, but not soft.
Be careful with prints
Large prints look OK on camera, but small prints look too busy. Stripes, checks, and herringbone look great in person, but TV cameras don't pick them up well. With a video interview, you could have the best camera available but you still have no control over other people's equipment or internet connection. As long as there's a chance that your interviewer will be talking to you via an outdated phone while their kids' online education is using up bandwidth, avoid prints entirely. They may be one distraction too many.
Subtle jewelry is best
Do a dress rehearsal in the mirror. You should be able to talk with your hands, as well as nod and shake your head without any of your jewelry moving. You want to remove anything noisy or distracting. Dangly earrings, jangly bracelets, and rings that catch the light don't belong in a job interview.
One advantage to video interviews
You want your interviewers to think that you're the full package when it comes to skills, experience, and temperament. But you don't need to worry about your entire outfit on a video chat. As long as you make sure to have everything you need close by so you don't have to get up, you can be barefoot and wearing pajama pants. There are all sorts of new things to consider with online video interviews, but you don't have to worry about shoes and hosiery, so it's a trade off.