You do not want to be back-lit when on a video conference. You want a soft, glowing light (indirect) to hit your face. You want to be seen in natural light if possible, or at least light that isn’t glaring or light that throws shadows on your face. Test your appearance on the computer at approximately the same time of day so you know how to set up your office shutters/blinds/drapes to provide the most favorable lighting.
Prior to the call and during daylight hours, test your PC/laptop for video conferencing. Make sure your camera and microphone function without trouble. To be sure, try and conference with a friend to confirm all is in order before the actual interview.
Please also consider the following:
Are the people interviewing you able to see stacks of paperwork, boxes, dishes or a messy room behind you? Are you in a silent office, or are the kids watching cartoons or video games behind you? Set up your environment so you present the most professional environment possible. If possible, have your background be a set of bookcases with books. Be careful with framed photos—are they appropriate for your future boss to see? If a traditional office background isn’t possible, a blank wall is ideal. Do not sit with a window behind you. The glare will be difficult to manage. If you plan to have a desk light on behind you test how it looks on and off. The ideal background looks professional, tidy/clean and controlled.
Make certain you are in a near-silent location. The only thing the interviewer should hear is your voice. Is there a possibility the dog will bark? A child will call for you or run into your office space? Is your telephone ringer turned off. Do you have noisy habits, like tapping your pencil or fingers, cracking knuckles, or folding/shuffling/touching papers?
Wear professional clothes. Do not wear all white shirt, or all dark clothes. A white shirt alone can trick your computer’s camera into automatically darkening the photo—and you, which will give you dark shadows on your face. Consider a navy jacket or professional sweater.
A bottle of water is fine.
Concentrate on your answers, questions and your presentation, of course, but also concentrate on focusing your eyes on the little circle at the top of your computer screen—the camera lens. It is a natural reaction to want to look at the small image of yourself in the lower corner during the interview, but if you’ve prepared your background, adjusted the tilt of your computer screen/camera lens and you’ve placed your seat at the optimum distance from your camera so that your face is centered in the viewer’s screen, there shouldn’t be a need to look at your image. Just as with interpersonal communication, looking someone in the eye sends a message of sincerity, interest and commitment to the conversation. Someone who cannot look another in the eye sends the opposite set of signals.
Keep your resume and a copy of the job description, plus any other documents you may need, spread out in front of you for easy reference.
Upon the conclusion of the interview, make sure you ask for contact information so you can send the appropriate post interview “thank you” notes. Then, make sure that you have closed all connections for audio or video. Unplanned post interview comments via “hot mics” can be embarrassing and have cost more than one person the job they were seeking.