Location, location, location
Yes, you can see them. Don’t forget that’s a two-way street. Crashed out on a tatty sofa with last night’s wine glasses and an overflowing ashtray visible in the background is not a good look. Choose a spot where you’re unlikely to be disturbed by background noise or passing traffic (human or otherwise). Neutral backgrounds are good – a tidy-looking plant, subtle picture or bookshelf in the background will take the edge of austerity off a plain wall.
Dress to impress
Just because you’re not in the same room as the interviewer(s), it doesn’t mean they can’t get a sense of what you’re wearing. You wouldn’t turn up for an on-site interview I an un-ironed t-shirt, don’t do it for a Skype interview either. Looking your smartest will also keep you in a professional mindset.
Eyes on the prize
Looking directly at your webcam is the video interview equivalent of making eye contact in a face-to-face situation. Most of us instinctively look at the image of the person we’re talking to, or look at ourselves. Remember to look at the camera when you’re talking – practice doing it until it becomes second nature. On a related note…
Phone a friend
Don’t wait for the interview to find out your mic/speakers/headset/webcam don’t work. Practice using everything you need to make the interview run smoothly until you can do it without thinking – including looking at the camera. Incidentally, a headset will help reduce background noise and help you focus on the conversation. And don’t forget to tweak the lighting while you’re at it – soft lighting from the sides works better than direct overhead, while sitting directly in front of a window will leave your face completely in the shade.
Close down any applications you normally leave running in the background. If you haven’t run updates for a while, do it now – the last thing you need is your PC shutting down for updates mid-call. Remember to switch off Skype or other IM notifications – you don’t need friends or your mom accidentally barging in on your interview. Better still, set up a Skype account that you use exclusively for professional purposes – and be careful about name choice: “sexybeast007” might work wonders for your dating life but is unlikely to give the right impression to an interviewer, no matter how good their sense of humour.
Are you in a different time-zone from your interviewer? Check. Double-check. And confirm the time with them. Don’t depend on your phone’s time zone app to do the work for you – they don’t always take things like daylight saving time into account.