When you’re an expert in your field or a spokesperson for a cause, you will probably appear on camera at some point. The first time you’re invited to do a TV studio interview can be exciting -- and intimidating. To make sure you look your best, understand what looks best in front of the camera and think about the message you want to convey.
Look the Part
Think about what the interview is about and the organization you represent, then pick appropriate clothes. If you work for an environmental legal firm and are invited to do an interview about a specific case, dress in business attire. But if you’re the spokeswoman for a weekend environmental rally, it makes more sense to wear a T-shirt featuring your group’s logo. Use your outfit as a tool to support your credibility and the credibility of what you say during the interview.
Wear Solid Colors
Certain patterns look blurry on television, so it’s best to avoid patterned clothing altogether. Stick to solid colors, especially blues, pastels and natural tones. Avoid wearing red, white, and black. Red often bleeds on screen, while white can make you look washed out. Contrary to what you may think, black clothing does not have a slimming effect on television. The lack of contrast means the camera will have trouble differentiating your clothed arms from your clothed torso in the shot, which can make you look wider.
Light catching the diamonds on your rings or the glass on your watch can be distracting during a TV interview. Dangly earrings and bulky necklaces, meanwhile, can create noise that’s picked up by lapel microphones. Wear simple pieces of jewelry, and make sure your glasses are glare proof. Unless your interview is about jewelry or accessories, avoid distracting details that will keep the audience from listening to what you’re saying.
Never assume a makeup artist will attend to you at the studio. Apply your own makeup and neatly style your hair before you arrive. Keep your makeup subtle, and avoid glossy products. Apply powder to your face, nose and forehead to avoid shininess from the glare of studio lights. If you are bald, don't forget to apply powder to your head.
Clothing for Men
Men should pick clothes that they are comfortable wearing to look most at ease on camera. Wear well-fitting clothes, while avoiding heavy garments that will cause you to sweat under the studio lights. When wearing a suit jacket in an interview, keep it buttoned to hide any extra weight. Also, make sure you polish your shoes and clean the soles in case they appear in the shot. Don’t forget to keep your socks and ties simple, because textures and patterns can be distracting on screen.
Clothing for Women
Women should pick clothing that looks more tailored than baggy; you can always create a waist with a sash or belt. Also, make sure your top has a spot to clip a microphone, and avoid wearing distracting ruffles, frills or low necklines. Pants may look better on camera if you will be seated during the interview. If you do wear a skirt or dress, make sure the hemline is below the knee, and avoid ones with slits. Remember that many interviews end up online, so dress in a timeless fashion. So don't put on a festive sweater because it's Christmas or dress for a day at the beach.
Based in Toronto, J.A. Zander has worked as a full-time journalist since 2004. Zander's work has appeared in Canadian and American magazines, newspapers and websites.