Today’s job search has gone high-tech. From career networking online to using social media to build your online brand, being web savvy is to every job seeker’s advantage. One phenomenon of the Internet age is the Skype interview. An increasing number of recruiters are using online web interviews to screen candidates and conduct initial interviews. A great option for professionals willing to relocate or looking to feel out an opportunity before committing to an in-person interview, they can also be stressful – especially if you’ve never even used Skype. Fortunately for most veterans, Skype is second nature, being so often used to keep in touch with family back home. But a Skype interview for your next job is a far cry from a call home to mom. Here are a few tips to help you out.

  1. Get an account before you need it, and make sure your user name is professional. Even if you’ve never been asked to use Skype for an interview, get an account now. You don’t want the first time you’re using it to be when a recruiter asks, and it is definitely best to be able to express confident familiarity before your next potential employer asks.
  2. Practice. This is a great time to reconnect with family and friends you may not have chatted with in awhile – kill two birds with one stone by scheduling regular Skype calls and putting these tips to use when you do. Ask your family for feedback on your video quality and appearance and if they’re game, even have them role-play a potential interview with you.
  3. Brush your teeth, dress up, and do the things you would normally do when conducting a formal interview. It may seem strange if you’re just sitting at home, but at least dress-up from the waist up – it’s your chance to feel like your favorite television anchor. Same rules of dress apply – avoid distracting jewelry, plunging necklines or a disheveled look.
  4. Invest in a quality webcam. Most laptop computers sold today have very quality cameras built right in. If yours doesn’t, a suitable webcam can be bought for as little as $10. Be sure to test the quality and make sure it configures with your computer.
  5. Recon the area. You don’t need to set up a formal backdrop, but check out what is in the background. A home office or kitchen table work well, and whatever you do – don’t do the interview in bed or from your easy chair. This is also not a good interview to do from your current office – or your car. Try to schedule the interview for a time you can be at home. If you need to schedule the interview during office hours and can’t make it home, try to see if there is a library or community center with a room you can “check-out” for a few minutes.
  6. Be tech weary. Don’t leave the proper functioning of your machine to chance, be sure to test your equipment just prior to the call. If technical difficulties become a problem, admit it, and reschedule. We’ve all had one of those technical moments. If the timing of your call happens to be yours it is better to reschedule than try to troubleshoot an issue with the recruiter waiting at the other end of the screen. If your call is dropped mid-sentence (a common Skype problem) don’t freak out – wait for the interviewer to call back, if you don’t hear back in a couple of minutes, call them.
  7. Look at both the camera, and the screen. Inclination is to look at the person in the screen – which makes sense, you need to take advantage of any visual clues you see. But it’s also important to give a bit of “eye contact” by looking directly at the camera – use it for emphasis and to display confidence.

The Skype interview, while a fairly new phenomenon, can be expected to be used increasingly as recruiters and potential employers vet candidates. Try to enjoy it, and let your personality, and your skills, shine, by being relaxed, prepared and personable.

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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.