We have seen a variety of candidates looking for work attempt to impress us with their experience, poise, communication, and attire. Unfortunately, as anyone who conducts interviews knows, sometimes people are different in person than how they appear on paper. However, online video tech like Skype saves time and money through virtual interviews, favored over traditional meetings. A survey by Futurestep found 71% of companies use video interviews; 50% for candidate selection.
But this has left job seekers with a couple important questions: Are virtual interviews more informal? What should you wear? I suggest you always treat it like you would any other interview. More and more companies are coming to understand how a bad hire can hurt their bottom line.
Wear a Full Outfit
This may seem obvious, but it’s important to state clearly-get fully dressed for your Skype interview. Don’t assume you will only be seen from the chest up. While you may think you have no reason to stand during a video interview, you never know what could happen. Video connections fail. Sound needs adjusting. Lighting looks terrible, and the interviewer can’t see you. Trust us; you don’t want to suddenly find yourself in the awkward position of having to get up and move around while wearing a suit jacket with sweatpants. To a potential employer, this comes across as you don’t take the job seriously enough.
One time a client of ours was vetting candidates and had set up a series of quick Skype interviews. The main purpose was to get to know them and get a first impression of their professional appearance. Sure enough, one candidate was dressed very casually in a summer tank top and left the wrong impression. While this wasn’t a deal breaker, that overly casual persona continued to come out in other aspects of the interview. In the end, the candidate was not selected for the position.
When it comes to video interviews, employers still want to know that they are hiring a professional. This applies even if the job is remote and you will get to sit in your pajamas every day. You need to show them that you can be counted on to act professionally, meet deadlines, and manage your time.
If you are applying for a position that requires going into an office every day, this is even more important. Employers want to see that you are treating this as a real interview. Men should still consider wearing a suit, and women should dress professionally in a nice blouse or dress. If you know for sure the company prefers interviewees to dress more casually, your casual look should still be clean and professional. If you’re unsure, always choose the most professional option to be safe.
Dress for the Camera
If you’ve ever used Skype, Google Hangouts, or other video tools to have a conversation with someone, you know that sometimes the video and sound qualities aren’t always the best. Keeping this in mind, you need to make sure your attire doesn’t detract from the interview. Both men and women should follow the same principles here: avoid wearing anything with complicated or intricate patterns, such as a thin pinstripe suit or a busy floral top (these tend to look strange on a screen when you move around).
We also strongly discourage wearing all casual clothing like t-shirts and tank tops, partially because of my own experience. Neutral colors and blues are easier on the eye than bright whites, dark blacks, and other bold colors. Shiny or noisy jewelry and anything that can cast weird shadows become distracting when using a computer’s video and microphone features, so I suggest avoiding these as well
In the end, treat your Skype interview like you would a face-to-face meeting, and use your best judgment. Dress in a way that matches the type of interview and company, and consider getting a second opinion on your appearance beforehand.