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Is there a Job Interview Dress Code over Zoom?

Remote Job Dress Code

Dress Code in a Zoom Job Interview Matters

Zoom Job Interview Dress Code

Is there a dress code for Zoom job interviews? Is there a dress code for job interviews when the job is a remote position ? I have had a lot to say about the dress code in the office over the years. I have had more to say about the dress code in job interviews. Not enough candidates take dress codes seriously and it can have such a big impact on the final offer. Today I am here to talk about Zoom job interview dress codes in the remote interview.  Here is a post when interviews were in person and I feel a lot of this information is still relevant. https://hrnasty.com/dress-for-interview/

Readers know I work in technology. A majority of our workforce are developers and technologists. Like many companies, we shifted to a “work in the office on a voluntary basis” due to COVID. 

The dress code in the office hasn’t changed

We don’t have a written dress code. Employees wear what they are comfortable in. Marketing is dressed in business casual with a lot of Business Black. Developers will come in jeans, graphic t-shirts, and the occasional golf shirt. The only folks wearing button-downs are the execs, but most of us are wearing jeans and casual shoes.

For perspective, our company had a record year in 2020 and 2021. Working from home and the business casual dress didn’t hamper productivity. We have always maintained a “wear what you want” dress attitude. The only thing that changed in the last 2 years was the “work remotely” attitude.

In the remote world, the interview game has changed

In the past 18 months, we have hired over 100 employees. I might have had a total of 3 in-person interviews. These only happened in person because the candidates were located within walking distance of the office.

The rest of the candidates were hired via Zoom or MSFT Teams. In other words, I haven’t met anyone in person. I don’t know if these candidates were wearing pants, shoes, or underwear. 

In my opinion, the attitude towards dressing for an interview has deteriorated in the last 18 months.  Unemployment is at an all-time low, so candidates have options. Two years ago, I was asked about the dress code in the office on a regular basis. Now the number 1 question is “Do you allow remote work?” I am rarely asked about the dress code.

Lack of questions about dress code in the office

This is just my opinion, but I think there is a correlation between what candidates are wearing to an interview and the lack of questions around the dress code. Candidates just don’t think it matters. I believe this is the result of a couple of factors:

  • Most tech jobs are remote, so it is assumed that dress code isn’t an issue (makes sense but this is the wrong assumption)
  • The market is great for candidates. Candidates are not putting the same effort into interviews as they would if the unemployment rate was 10% and jobs were scarce.
  • The focus is on finding an employer that allows remote work, hence there is an assumption dress code shouldn’t matter.
    • COVID changed the employment scape, gas prices are driving up the cost of commuting, so remote work is highly valued.

The remote interview dress code still matters

You only get a single chance to make that impression.

This doesn’t mean you should be wearing a suit to an interview to be a developer.

It means, “be mindful” of the perception you are presenting to the hiring manager and interview loop.

Why your presentation layer in a remote job interview is important

I believe that how a candidate “presents” will affect the hiring manager’s desire to hire. Desire to hire is an emotional state. As much as we talk about behavioral examples and qualitative results:

  1. Most managers haven’t had formal interview training and are not asking effective questions.
  2. Many managers early in their careers don’t have enough reps/interviews to differentiate between candidates.

This can boil the decision down to an emotional decision as much as it is a quantitative decision.

Below are just a few reasons the presentation layer of a candidate makes a difference:

  1. If there are two candidates of equal qualifications (I understand that no two candidates are 100% equal) then the one with the better presentation layer can break the tie. The presentation layer hints at “attention to detail” and “how you will represent” the manager in a meeting or to the company.
  2. That desire to hire has a direct correlation to how flexible the hiring manager will be in the negotiations. This manifests itself in irrational negotiations”.  I have heard many hiring managers say, “Close candidate Suzy, I want her!”
  3. Many hiring managers are a generation older than the candidate. It is that additional experience that put them into a place where they make decisions. These older generations came up with the mindset that “working in the office” and “dressing for the job you want, not the job you have” is still the way. COVID is breaking a lot of these habits, but it is hard to break a 10-, 20-, or 30- year habit. 
  4. Candidates should show the interviewers that we CAN be presentable. After the interviews, it could be casual, casual, casual. But for gawds sake, show the manager you CAN be presentable.

I don’t want to work for a company that worries about the dress code

We want to be in a position where we can decline an offer. We don’t want to be declined as a candidate.

You can negotiate in a competitive job market. You may have to wear business casual, but you will have more leverage to ask for an additional 10% salary or an extra week of PTO if you are the desired candidate.

In a remote interview, you don’t even have to be fully dressed, so wear your flip flops and cargo shorts, but wear a presentable top in a remote job interview. To the guy on the other side of the camera who talks with 100’s of candidates, the presentation layer matters.

See you at the after party

Good luck,

HRNasty

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, ridiculously good, tricky, and manipulative but with the result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone good at something. “He has a nasty forkball.”

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