June 21, 2024

LeadershipProfessional Development

5 Do’s and Don’ts for Video Interviews

By: Leah Nalepa

During COVID, casual work attire became the norm in work-from-home, hybrid work environments.  Professional events were all canceled, so there was no need to get dressed up.

Four years after the pandemic, some of the results are positive: dress for your day work culture is more accepted. Wearing comfortable clothes in your home on a day when you simply need to power through tedious work is a perfectly fine option. 

Workers, however, should be wary of being too casual when the environment dictates otherwise.

“I feel that I command my audience better when I put a tie on during my Zoom calls,” said a friend of mine recently.

I couldn’t agree more. When we dress well, we feel better. Whether we admit it or not, this mindset translates to the digital world—particularly in interviews.

Whether we’re sitting at our kitchen table, a desk in our bedroom, or a phone booth at a co-working location, our clothes reflect our professionalism and self-respect.

As a recruiter, I’ve seen the best and worst of how people show up for video interviews. Based on my experience, here are 5 do’s and don’ts for what to wear in a video interview.

The 5 DON’TS of Online Job Interviews

1. Don’t Disrobe

The shocking effect of this tagline was purposeful. While I’ve never seen a candidate completely undress during an interview, they have removed items of clothing such as a jacket, tie, or button-up shirt only to reveal a casual t-shirt underneath. Few actions come across as more unprofessional than this. Not only is it distracting for the interviewer, but it screams, “I don’t care,” “I don’t want to be here,” and “I don’t respect you.”

2. Don’t Wear Eveningwear, Clubwear, or Pajamas

Similarly, clothing that is visibly inappropriate for any professional setting, such as pajamas, lingerie (or camisoles that look like lingerie), or overly tight and revealing tops, is disrespectful and discredits you as a candidate. Just because you can interview from your bedroom doesn’t mean you should wear something that could be worn to bed.

3. Don’t Show Too Much Skin.

This blog post is meant for all audiences, although this point is particularly relevant to women. There is no reason to reveal too much skin in an interview, including cleavage or shoulders. When in doubt, stick to the rule of thumb: the neckline should lay four fingers below your clavicle and the top should completely cover your shoulders.

4. Don’t Be Too Casual.

Unless you’re interviewing for a position at the gym, athleisure, sweatshirts, T-shirts, and even flannels are likely too casual for an interview. While these pieces are a step above pajamas, it’s not a far reach. There is so little shown in a video interview that controlling what you can—such as wearing professional clothes—to impress the interviewer makes a big difference.

5. Don’t Have Bedhead.

This should go without saying. However, time and again, I am consistently shocked by how many candidates don’t seem to tend to their hair before joining a video call. If you don’t look polished for an interview, an employer won’t put you in front of their clients or senior staff either (read: won’t hire you).

The 5 DO’S of Online Job Interviews

Most readers probably haven’t been guilty of the “don’t” recommendations above. However, we may not have learned what is appropriate for video interviews in a post-COVID, digital world either.

1. Wear Professional Clothing as if you were Interviewing In-Person.

While working from home often means casual attire, such as jeans or sweatpants, it’s essential to remember that an interviewer isn’t viewing you as a coworker. They assess you as their future employee and ask whether you can represent their company well. You should wear the same professional clothes in a video call as you would for an in-person interview. Not only does this set you apart from other candidates, but it also indicates that you care about your appearance, respect the interviewer and want to be taken seriously. When in doubt, find pieces that intersect the line between business casual and business professional. These include a neatly-tailored dress or blouse for women or a button-up top with a sportcoat or blazer for men.

2. Wear Pieces That Reflect Your Skin & Hair in a Flattering Way

Camera angles and awkward room lighting usually don’t do a person justice regarding their image in a video call. A skin-colored sweater that looks impeccable in person may feel dull or blend in with you and your background on camera. Rather, opt for pieces that enhance your image and contrast your coloring. Jewel tones, livelier colors, bigger patterns, and layered pieces help curate, sharpen, and brighten your image on camera.

3. Add Accessories in a Tasteful Way

When done right, accessories can polish your outfit and enhance your overall image. Wear earrings, a watch, a necklace, or a headband that add a bit of color or visual interest to your appearance while not distracting from it. Recall that your headshot is the only angle the interviewer sees. Ensure your accessories don’t detract from that image by being overtly gaudy or over-the-top.

4. Keep Hair and Makeup Clean and Polished

A video interview is no excuse for a bad hair day. Brush your hair and ensure it’s neatly styled or put up. For women, if you’re wearing makeup, err on the lighter side and keep it clean and polished. Interviews are not the time to wear heavy makeup or roll out of bed without styling your hair.

5. Be Mindful of Your Background

While your background isn’t part of your clothing, it is directly related when it comes to a video call. Remember, the interviewer can only see what’s in the camera, so your background should not distract them. Ensure your background is organized and appropriate for an interview, or better yet, blur your background or add a virtual image of an office. 


While there are plenty more do’s and don’ts to virtual interviews, the simplest advice is to wear professional clothing as if you were in person. This is not a time to experiment. Rather, show your best self by wearing pieces that evoke confidence and exemplify professionalism.