Let’s say you’re a therapist in Montana who found a great looking position open in Florida. Given the frozen ground outside your door right now, Florida sounds pretty good and you decide to apply.

Of course, Florida is a long way from Montana, so you have to wonder if that alone will get your resume tossed into the “no thanks” pile. After brainstorming for a few minutes, you decide to include a statement in your cover letter indicating your willingness to do the initial interview via Skype, and low and behold, the employer gets back to you to set up a day and time. Now what?

If you don’t already have Skype on your computer or other device, you’ll want to get it ASAP so you’ll have plenty of time to make test calls to friends or family to find out how everything works and troubleshoot any problems before the big day arrives. As you communicate with the hiring manager, be clear about who’s going to call who – you don’t want to be left wondering the day of the call.

Getting the technical and logistical aspects of the call down pat, however, is only part of the equation. Even if you use Skype all the time to video chat with friends and family, there are a number of factors to consider before embarking on an employment interview via this technology. Here are seven of them –

  1. Create a professional username for the employment interview process. Your old college buddies may love “BobcatManiac” but the hiring manager would prefer to see “JoeSmith1” or something similar using your real name.
  2. Evaluate the background that will be visible to the hiring manager during the call and make sure it’s as neutral as possible. If that means moving your computer from the desk in your bedroom (where your unmade bed is going to be clearly visible), then do it. A blank wall painted in a soft neutral color would be best.
  3. Check the lighting. You want enough light so the interviewer can clearly see you, but not so much that it will cast harsh shadows on your face.
  4. Pick your wardrobe wisely. You should dress for a Skype interview just as you would dress for an in-person interview (i.e., business casual or better), but since you’ll be on screen, you need to pay careful attention to the colors and patterns in your clothes as well. Shades of blue look best on the screen, and solid colors are preferable over patterns or stripes. You want the interviewer to focus on your face and what you are saying – not on the distracting pattern in your shirt or tie.
  5. Practice staying focused on the screen so you will appear engaged with the hiring manager throughout the interview. Keep other family members, pets, etc., out of the room and avoid glancing away. If you let your eyes drift elsewhere the interviewer will assume you’re distracted by something she cannot see and wonder what’s going on. Give her your full and undivided attention.
  6. It’s okay to have some notes in front of you to ensure you cover everything you want to cover during the interview. But keep them to a minimum and limit how often you look down at them. Maintaining direct eye contact is critical to delivering a good impression during a video interview.
  7. Other tips? Just as you would during an in-person interview, smile, exude a friendly but professional manner, and be sure to thank the hiring manager for the opportunity to speak with him. And don’t be surprised if the Skype interview is substantially shorter than what you’re used to in person. For some employers Skype is just an easy way to do an initial screen on lots of candidates. If they like what they see, they’ll request an in-person interview soon!