I had four video interviews during the last job season. Three by Skype, and one by another video thing. Adobe something. They were all quite different experiences, which got me to thinking about some of the alleged shortcomings of Skype interviews. (For the record, two Skype-ing schools gave me the option to interview in person at APA, and the others conducted only video interviews.)
1. Non-Skype (no APA). Pain in the ass set-up involving downloading new software and going through a whole rigamarole, with a clunky, non-intuitive interface. Which, everybody has Skype, so why bother? It was no better than Skype in terms of image/sound quality. The chair explicitly asked interviewees to use headphones (supposedly to avoid echo and feedback), so I really couldn't hear myself speaking very well.
The committee sat in a U around a rectangular arrangement of tables, and the camera was at the opposite end of the room (the candidate's end, as it were), so they were all fairly tiny. Because of some glitchiness with the initial connection (no sound, etc.), I was afraid to switch to full screen lest I disturb the delicate balance (plus my camera is on my laptop, so even full screen is not that big), so the tiny Lego people problem was compounded by that. Given how persnickety they were in terms of demands for the candidates, you'd think they could have had a better set-up on their end. As for the interview itself, it was lousy. Boring, bored, rote questions, one per committee member, with no follow-up questions. None. It was like they were going through the motions (and maybe they were. Maybe they just weren't that into me as a candidate to begin with). Results: They sent me a PFO a few weeks later, so I give them marks for punctuality.
2. Skype. (APA option) Very professional set-up with a guy running the camera in a conference room clearly set up for video conferencing. Committee sitting on one side of a long table, facing the camera. Camera zoomed in on each member as s/he spoke, making the whole eye contact thing much easier, and making it feel like more of a conversation. One SC member showed up late, but managed to join the conversation. Friendly SC; chair started off by praising my writing sample (nice!). Good, chatty interview with interesting questions.
This is the right way to do Skype, if you ask me, and not qualitatively worse than an in person interview. But not all schools have this kind of set-up available. Mine sure doesn't. Results: Campus visit.
3. Skype. (APA option) Technical difficulties, with committee actually conducting the interview from APA, on a laptop, all crowded around a hotel table. Technical glitches, fuzzy picture, freezy screen (probably due to typically lousy hotel wifi), hard to hear or see clearly at times, a couple of people slightly off-camera and leaning in (which was kind of funny, and gave the whole thing a more freewheeling feel). Nonetheless, it was a good, engaged, friendly committee asking great questions, and a really good conversation. Everyone cool with the fact that technical problems happen, and sometimes you have to repeat yourself. Results: Campus visit.
(Fourth search was temporarily suspended, so nothing to report, except an uneventful Skype interview that went well, I think.)
So, yeah, the technical issues that can be a problem with Skype happen. Although it seems they can be remedied by having a professional set-up and good connection. But even when you don't have that, and there are glitches, it's still possible to have a good interview. Both of my Skype interviews were, I would say, equally good despite substantial differences in the technical set-up and tech quality. From my limited and admittedly anecdotal experience, and contrary to the conventional wisdom, I don't think the technical difficulties result in an overall disadvantage for Skypees as compared to in-person interviewees. I infer this from the fact that both schools I Skyped with also did APA interviews. I assume also that getting a fly-out means the Skype interview went well. And given the financial and time costs associated with going to APA, Skype is hands-down the better way to go for job candidates. I appreciated having the option of doing the interviews via Skype. I've had far, far, far worse experiences with in-person interviews at APA.
That said, there's a benefit in doing some extra prep to optimize the Skype experience. My prep: My laptop has a good camera, but I bought a good quality USB microphone for optimal sound (I record videos for my online courses, so I wasn't buying it exclusively for interviews.) It's possible some schools have decent USB mics available. I asked and mine did not. I interviewed from my office where I have a reliable ethernet connection (recommend this over wifi, b/c Skype is not very forgiving of wifi fluctuations). I brought a small lamp from home and put it on my desk to improve the lighting (overhead fluorescent tubes). I propped my laptop on a thick book to improve the angle, and checked the background (all books), and uncluttered my desk enough to hint that I'm productive, but not a disorganized mess. I cleaned up my office so there wouldn't be a lot of visual junk and stuff behind me. I printed out the names and photos of the committee members, and tacked it to the wall behind my laptop, so I could look at it without noticeably looking away. Also put a few notes for myself up there. I tested the image/sound/background by Skyping with a friend beforehand. And the usual stuff -- dressing as if it was an in-person, maintaining eye contact with the camera (not the screen, which is hard to do!), learning as much as I could about the school, department, and committee, etc. Also, on the assumption that the committees might be doing multiple interviews in a day, I picked interview times that were shortly after lunch, or (second choice) shortly after breakfast, because of this study.
I suspect, and hope, that more and more interviews will be conducted via Skype or somesuch (but not that Adobe crap), which is a good thing. Chime in here if you have anecdotes of your own.