This is the background color to avoid on a video call

Your background color could affect your chances in a virtual interview...

Paper confetti in bright colors on teal backdrop
(Image credit: Les Hirondelles Photography via Getty)

Zoom backgrounds have taken the world by storm, but it seems there is one particular background color you should be avoiding on a video call at all costs. 

With the effects of the pandemic and restrictions on travel meaning more people are working from home than ever before, video calling platforms such as Zoom have surged in popularity. From stage managing our sitting rooms to scoping out our colleagues’ best eReader or book collection, many people are now fully acclimatized to the etiquette of video calls. 

But what about if we're looking to switch roles - could our choice of background affect our chances in a virtual job interview? You may not have given it much thought before, but according to a new study - it can! Surveying new employees looked into what colors and objects appeared in their video backgrounds during recent interviews. 

The results show that certain combinations do appear to increase the prospects of job seekers. And it seems there is one background color you should definitely avoid...

What video call background color should you avoid?

It may be your own favorite color and often associated with love and romance - but red is not the background color to go for if you’ve got a big interview coming up via video call. The research found that only 18% of job seekers surveyed went on to become employed after using it during their virtual interview. 

Whatever the reason why, if you want to give yourself the best chance of landing that dream new job, the research found it's best to steer clear of scarlet and go down a more neutral path. 

What background colors are best for virtual interviews?

According to the study, light greys are the most likely to contribute positively to a remote job interview. In total, 84% of the new hires used the color in their background, whether that was a virtual background or a painted wall.

Young woman on a video conference using laptop at home

(Image credit: Oscar Wong via Getty)

And the success of neutrals didn’t stop there, as white backgrounds came in second place, with 79% of the new hires having this background during their remote interviews.

What should you consider when choosing a virtual interview background?

With pre-interview nerves hard to control at the best of times, it’s easy to be daunted by the prospect of a virtual one, but all is not lost! spoke with Dennis Relojo-Howell the founder of Psychreg, who revealed his top tips on what to consider. 

1. Consider the psychological effects of background colors. 

Colors – and their corresponding tones - are often linked with a person's attitudes and emotions. That is why it is important to consider the psychological effects colors might have during an online interview, where many of the nuances of face-to-face interviews can be lost. 

Young woman laughing during video chat at desk

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2. If you can, choose neutral colors. 

The results showed that people are drawn to neutral backgrounds. White is often seen as the safest and it can also illuminate your face. Light grey tones are very calming and look professional.

3. Be careful when choosing warm colors. 

Warm colors, such as red, orange, and yellow, can evoke a range of emotions ranging from comfort and warmth to hostility and anger.

4. Background style and elements also must be considered. 

A minimalist approach could help convey a more professional but approachable vibe; with artificial light just to accentuate the glow in your face.

Woman working at home sitting at table reading on laptop screen

(Image credit: Maskot via Getty)

5. Be aware of your objects. 

Objects in your background should also be considered. Whether we accept it or not, interviewers can make quick assumptions about the objects they see behind us.

6. Be yourself. 

Many people can feel embarrassed by their homes during video calls because we have these idealized notions that everything online should be neat and tidy. But being yourself is always the best way!

Now you know exactly what background to use the next time you take a professional video call!

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use , Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!