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How to Handle a Skype Interview

An interview conducted over a medium such as Skype can either send you into a nervous tizzy or make you feel overly relaxed. Ultimately, you should keep in mind that you have the same goals in an on-camera interview as you do in a traditional interview. Before the big day, you'll want to select the ideal space, flattering lighting and the appropriate outfit. It's also smart to practice, just as you would with any other interview.

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Dress the Part

While it may be tempting to throw your comfy slippers and pajamas on with a professional business top, do dress appropriately from head to toe. You'll feel much more "the part" and less like you're sitting in front of a computer at home. On the same note, avoid bright colors or distracting patterns and make sure your hair, face and even fingernails are well groomed.

Choose a Quiet and Clean Location

Interruptions can distract you and the interviewer, observes Bob Kovalsky, a senior vice president at Adecco Staffing U.S., a leading human resources solutions company. So, “make sure anyone else at home is aware that you'll be conducting an interview via Skype. Also make sure your cell phone and house phone are both on silent. Seeming distracted can lead the interviewer to assume you'll be easily distracted."

A background with minimal visual distractions is ideal. Aim for adequate and flattering lighting and a clean and organized backdrop. You can even use your background to your advantage. For example, an extremely organized office makes a positive impression, as do awards or degrees hung on the wall behind you.

Where to Look

Look into the camera when you speak and avoid looking at the computer screen, out of the window or anywhere else. "Think of your eyes as a compass. Wherever your eyes go, your audience's eyes will follow," writes Paul Bailo in his book, "The Essential Digital Interview Handbook." "Your eyes need to look straight into the camera so it appears on the other end like you are looking right at the other person." To prevent distractions on your screen, close every window except for Skype.

Smile and Gesture Naturally

It may feel weird speaking to a screen. Still, try not to be too stiff or too lax. Bailo writes that you should smile, nod and move naturally throughout the interview. Use hand gestures as you normally would and keep them within the frame. Avoid excessive or quick movements, which can make you appear fuzzy on the other end.

Speak Clearly and Listen Carefully

Your ability to communicate your strengths and enthusiasm is vital to the success of a Skype interview. To make sure you're heard and come across confidently, speak clearly and at a natural pace. When the interviewer is speaking, listen carefully and acknowledge her presence by looking into the camera and nodding or making the appropriate expression.

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Do a Practice Run

An on-camera interview introduces challenges you wouldn't experience during an in-person interview. "If you're not used to using a webcam, set up a practice run before your Skype interview," suggests Deborah Sakelaris, a career coach and the owner of Rodas Coaching. "Use the video recording on your smartphone to record yourself answering practice interview questions. Make sure you're talking clearly but not too loud."

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