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  • Writer's pictureJudith van Dijk

What to wear for a video interview?

Hooray! You’ve got yourself that all important ‘foot-in-the-door’ and landed yourself a job interview. During the current lockdown protocols, it’s highly likely that this will be a video interview.

Unemployment in the UK as a result of the Corona crisis is estimated to reach dizzying new heights, the number of jobs listed has fallen by more than 60%, whilst applicant per job is sharply rising… you need to step up your game.

Although every interview is nerve-wracking you may be feeling uncharacteristically less anxious. After all, you’ll be having this chat in the familiar surroundings of your home however, therein lies the danger.

You may feel that you can get away with cutting a few corners, I want to take this opportunity to impress upon you that, especially now when the competition is fierce, you need to make your best effort ever to looking and acting the part.

Preparing for a video interview, in theory, is no different than preparing for a face-to-face interview. You need to do your homework on all fronts. Whether conducting a person-to-person, telephone or video interview this handy list on ‘how to prepare for an interview’ by Indeed, will talk you through some of the points you want to have covered. I am going to add a few extra tips to this list specifically related to video interviews.

I’ve spent a major part of my career working in the Internet industry, so long before lockdown, a lot of my work has been conducted online through video conferences with teams all around the world. I’ve conducted interviews with potential candidates online and I’ve also gone through an entire recruiting process of several rounds solely via video conferencing to land a job. I’ve spent a lot of time online in Skype, Zoom and Google Hangouts and picked up some do’s and don’ts along the way..

Be conscious of your body language

Video calls are 2 dimensional, there’s a sensory preceptor barrier that goes up that we tend to rely on to ‘get a feeling’ of the other participant. We would usually count on all or most of our sensory preceptors working together to ‘get a feel’ for the energy a person brings to the table. Without this energy you can bet your high heels that the interviewer is going to spend a lot more time zooming in on details. We also tend to forget there is someone else ‘in the room’ so to speak, especially when at home which makes us more prone to unconscious habits, fidgeting and fiddling.

“Don’t sit on a swivel chair if you’re inclined to fidget. Sit at a desk (or table) with your arms rested on the table, this will help you not to slouch. Position your camera at your hairline so that you are looking up slightly and centred on the screen. Don't get too close to the camera, or you will end up with a distorted face”

Where your attention goes, the energy flows

You’re probably thinking, she just said video calls lack ‘energy’ so what is she on about. In this case, I am talking about the internal energy that will fire up because you are focused on the task at hand.

There is a big chance that you will get distracted, that your attention will waver simply because you are at home. You need to be wary of ‘homely’ distractions, the washing machine that starts bleeping because it just finished, the oven timer because dinner is almost ready, kids, pets, etc. This is not to say that things might happen that you didn’t plan for whilst on your call, but planning as much as possible to reduce the number of distractions will give you the peace of mind to focus on your interview.

If at all possible, pick a quiet room away from all the ‘homely’ distractions. Don’t plan any chores that might require your attention during your call. Enlist the help of other family members, your partner, older siblings,... to manage kids, pets and other potential distractions”

You really are what you wear!

While it’s likely that the interviewer will only see your upper half, I am a staunch believer that you need to dress professionally from top to toe and not just in case you need to stand up. There is a far more important reason.

I’m sure you’ve heard many a saying along the lines of ‘dress for success; dress for the job you want; dress like the leader you are; look good, feel great’. Maybe, subconsciously you think there might be some truth in them or maybe you feel it’s all a load of blah.

There are tons of studies on the subject of Fashion and Psychology, which I won’t bore you with, that suggest there is definitely a correlation between what we wear and our behaviour, our attitudes and our self-image. Not to mention the influence it can exercise over others.

Just take a moment to think about how different outfits throughout the day make you feel. Usually, after a busy day at the office you’ll get home and change into something more comfortable - a shedding of the day so to speak. Leading up to bedtime you’ll put on your pj’s because unconsciously they help you wind down for the night. If you want to spark up that fire, if you want to feel you are the ‘real deal’, then you need to dress like it.

"Wear something that makes you feel professional yet comfortable and that gives you confidence. Make sure your clothes are clean and ironed. That you’ve taken care of your personal grooming, washed your hair, manicure, make-up… and don’t forget your shoes"

The devil is in the preparation

Finally, you want to do a dry run well before your interview is scheduled. Make sure you’ve downloaded, registered and/or logged on to whatever video conferencing platform is going to be used during the interview. Then test it works, make sure you have internet (or WIFI) test the video, the sound and your microphone.

If you’re internet connection is unreliable, consider switching to your mobile device and using 4G. If both are problematic, just mention this at the start of the interview, that way should the connection break the interviewer knows to re-connect.

Get dressed, put on your make-up, do your hair. Set up your camera and have a look at how you look on video. Does the outfit, your hair and make-up come across the way you intend? If not, now is your chance to adjust any details and try out some different styles and outfits.

"Avoid bright colours and patterns, stick with neutral tones. No slogans on t-shirts. Low-cut necklines, big neck bows or ties and wide or puffy sleeves are accentuated exactly in the wrong way due to the camera angle, steer clear of them.
Make sure your face is naturally lit, avoid lighting behind you. If you wear glasses check that there is no glare on the lenses from lighting in the room. Keep your background neutral"

If you would like any further advice or tips, send me an email and I will gladly help out.


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