What to wear on a Zoom interview?
September 7, 2021 9:25 AM   Subscribe

I have a job interview coming up - over Zoom. What kind of outfit should I wear?

This is the third step in the interview process: I did a long phone call with one staff person first, then a Zoom call with three staffers, and now this is the final with something like 8 people on the screen. So I'd imagine I'm being somewhat seriously considered for this position.

The job is at a small but successful lefty non-profit. I haven't been there (pandemic) but the vibe seems relaxed, but not *overly* relaxed or chill. Serious about their work but obviously not corporate. Those interviewing me in the 2nd round were wearing a variety of clothes - one in a solid tshirt, another in a dress.

During the second interview, I wore a button down, so they saw me with a collar. Should I replicate that, or fancy up and add a jacket? a tie? or something else entirely?

Bonus: any other tips for doing well on a Zoom interview.
posted by RajahKing to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Should probably specify what sort of gender presentation you wish to make?
posted by praemunire at 9:30 AM on September 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

My inclination is to wear something like you wore on previous rounds, seeing as those outfits clearly weren’t disqualifying. Good luck on the interview!
posted by whisk(e)y neat at 9:37 AM on September 7, 2021 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I work for a successful lefty non-profit and have been interviewing candidates for a lot of open roles. Wear what you would normally wear for an in person interview. I would probably not wear a tie, that's a little too buttoned up for me, but a jacket does make sense.

Tips for doing well: Mute yourself when you're not talking. Have a plan in place for what to do if you have technical difficulties (will you call in, etc.).

Good luck!
posted by pumpkinlatte at 9:45 AM on September 7, 2021 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: oh sorry - I will present as a middle aged white man.
posted by RajahKing at 10:00 AM on September 7, 2021

Best answer: I would wear a dress shirt and jacket, no tie, unless you’ll be significantly more uncomfortable in a jacket. It’s a step up from what you wore last time and seems like it wouldn’t be drastically more formal than the workplace norms.
posted by MadamM at 10:05 AM on September 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'd wear similar to what you wore last time as it sounds like that's on the upper-end of the formal/informal spectrum of what those interviewing you were wearing. But if anyone was wearing a jacket in your last interview, then I'd add that for your future interview.
posted by coffeecat at 10:12 AM on September 7, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I did a round of video interviews back in June/July for an admin role at my very casual no dress code company. Every single candidate I spoke with wore a jacket over a blouse (all women, but jacket still applies). In the worst heat of summer! All donned a jacket! Even if they were calling in from what was obviously a (no shade, I have been there for sure) fairly shitty apartment. It appears to be The Thing To Do, you upgrade your life and who you are with a jacket.

I would have made the hiring decisions I did with or without the jackets, but it's something that I noticed and it seems to be an indicator of "I understand how to present professionally when the situation calls for it."
posted by phunniemee at 10:51 AM on September 7, 2021 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I've done a lot of Zoom interviews (as the interviewer, not the interviewee). I don't spend a lot of time looking at what people are wearing. An inoffensive, neutral shirt that looks professional is, in my opinion, more than enough. I would stick to the button-down.

For me, actually, what's going on in the background is way more memorable and noticeable. Folks who have good lighting, a well-considered background - an image or blurred is also more than ok! It seems to have replaced the "I prepared well for this interview and thought of all the details outfit" for me.
posted by pazazygeek at 10:57 AM on September 7, 2021 [10 favorites]

I've been cycling through a selection of "Zoom shirts" I wear and button up over whatever t-shirt I happen to have on, and quite often a pair of shorts nobody will see. I'm a 50 year old, white, cisgender male in the tech industry. Many of the people I have talked to are just wearing t-shirts. I haven't seen any blazers, but even if I had I'm not sure I'd wear one myself. Our home office space is upstairs and our house has a really steep temperature gradient, so if I wore a blazer they'd probably see me sweat through it.
posted by fedward at 11:12 AM on September 7, 2021

Shirt tie and suit jacket. Fun tip the past year I was out of work and I never once wore suit pants for Zoom interviews. Gym shorts usually hahah always waist up.

Take it as serious as a real in-person interview.
posted by PetiePal at 12:22 PM on September 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

One of the few useful things I can remember from grad school was the advice to wear a tie to job interviews to show that you want the job bad enough to make this hat-tip to convention . . . on review a hat would be OTT, though.
My introductory spiel for 1st year science labs included a bit about wearing a white coat being protective, yes, but also a conditioning to become more alert, more observant and more careful whenever they wore it.
So wear pressed trousers-of-power to match the jacket.
posted by BobTheScientist at 1:05 PM on September 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

I participated in a round of Zoom candidate interviews on behalf of a non-profit organization a while back. The male candidates all dressed business casual, except one who wore a suit and tie. There was a little joking about the fact that he'd never have to actually wear one on the job, if he got it. He was invited for another interview, also on Zoom, as a finalist, and wore a suit and tie again. He ended up being one of the three final picks. We hired someone else, but I have to say that his suit and tie made him memorable to the interviewers, in a positive and not strange way. So the moral of this story is, if you want to stand out a little, wear a jacket and tie. If not, lose the tie.
posted by beagle at 1:14 PM on September 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

+1 for jacket. It will make it look like you are taking them seriously, but, without a tie, it will not look like too much. Also +1 for good lighting and background on Zoom - that's as important as what you are wearing. You want bright and professional looking - it can be a fake or blurred background.
posted by Mid at 1:23 PM on September 7, 2021

Best answer: Nthing jacket, and do wear trousers. If the unexpected should happen in or around your home during the call and you instinctively stand, everyone will appreciate your matching outfit.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:24 PM on September 7, 2021 [5 favorites]

I (cis-male, brown, mid-thirties) have had several successful (resulting in job offers) sets of Zoom interviews over the last few months, in the social work nonprofit/government space. Personally I wore long-sleeved button-up shirts with slacks or cords in the Zoom interviews, a suit would've been unnecessary but this will vary by field and geographic region.

Nth the advice above to give some thought to what interviewers will be seeing behind you. I sat in a comfortable chair with my back to a blank wall, in a space where there was filtered light through the windows in front of me. I used a cell phone attachment that clamps onto the table in front of me as it has a better camera than my laptop does. I made sure the room was tidy so that I would feel more put together, checked the setup with selfie view to see what the camera showed and how the lighting was before the interviews, double-checked that my headphones were properly paired to the phone, and logged into interviews about five minutes ahead of their scheduled time just to be sure everything was set up right.
posted by tivalasvegas at 2:51 PM on September 7, 2021

Oh and don't worry if your cat / dog / other small friend jumps onto your lap. Just introduce them, have a brief laugh with your interviewer(s) about "aww pets" and move forward. My cat is all about stealing the limelight and people love it. We're all living through this pandemic and people are understanding; if anything, little interruptions because WFH is a way to humanize yourself, show that you can professionally deal with stuff without losing your cool, and break the ice a bit.
posted by tivalasvegas at 2:54 PM on September 7, 2021 [4 favorites]

Your Zoom setup is at least as important as your clothing. I am shocked at how many candidates for high-level positions have their webcam pointed straight up their nostrils, or their desk lamp positioned to cast their face in shadow like an anonymous witness on a television expose.

Put your camera at or above eye level, make sure your face is well-lit, use a mic that you have actually tested, and make sure the scene view behind you doesn't look like a damned disaster area...You'll come across better than 75% of the other candidates right off the bat.
posted by xylothek at 3:05 PM on September 7, 2021 [7 favorites]

I think wearing a jacket or a tie to your zoom interview is a little weird and try-hard for a lefty non profit if you’re at home, unless you’re going for a really public facing role (like soliciting large gifts or something legal or regulatory or press facing) or it’s an especially traditional org or you feel really ace in a jacket. I think you’re doing well if you have a collar and a clear face and agree that your set up should be free of eye catching disaster. Good luck!
posted by vunder at 5:17 PM on September 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have done recruiting for a relatively large and well known non-profit, but largely in their tech organization and for a wide array of roles in that org (product managers, developers, designers, chief of staff, project managers, C-suite). Advice I'd add:

+1 good Zoom setup. base level of ensuring you're well lit, you don't cause the interviewer to echo, and your background is non-distracting is fine. More is unnecessary. Not meeting these standards gets in the way of having a good conversation.

pets are fine, as are young children who come in sometimes to say hi. A noisy background or continuous interruptions, again, gets in the way of a good conversation and may be a cause to reschedule the interview

Depending on the role, even a jacket might be a little much. You want the interviewer to be able to imagine you in the role as a peer, so go for one step more formal than what you've seen your interviewers wear but not much more than that. You said that one of your male interviewers wore a t-shirt, so a polo or collared button up is fine.

Other good behavior tips for a Zoom interview

1. if you take notes, do call that out in the beginning, so that if people hear typing or see your eyes go off the screen, they know why and that you're not multitasking. It's generally assumed that note taking is what's happening, but it's nice to say it aloud.

2. Keep eye contact with the screen while you're talking in case any of your interviewers has non-verbal body language to convey to you. Don't feel like you need to keep eye contact with the camera.

3. If your connection at home is spotty, have your phone ready to dial into the zoom in case your connection goes down. Like have the calendar up on your phone screen with the interview event and the one-touch join link available, so you can just hit the link and rejoin from your phone. It sucks when it happens and it's easy to panic and lose time.

Good luck!
posted by bl1nk at 11:22 AM on September 8, 2021

Absolutely wear what you'd wear in person. Doesn't matter what others are wearing. It's quite common for the interviewee to be the most dressed-up person in more casual organizations, and that's just fine. I think it's only weird in tech.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:11 PM on September 8, 2021

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