How to ace a Skype job interview

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(MoneyWatch) Have you ever been interviewed for a new job using Skype, the online video service? At first, it can seem less stressful than an in-person meeting. You don't have to worry about getting to the interview on time, an unfortunate occurrence of bad breath or even inclement weather. But just because you're not sitting across from your interviewer doesn't mean you don't have to present yourself well.

"As humans we are very visual, taking cues from movements and body language, even in a job interview,"  says HR and social media consultant Jessica Miller-Merrell, CEO of Xceptional HR. "The challenge with video is interpreting these visual cues with this added barrier of technology."

In short, you need to make the technology work for you, not against you. Here are Miller-Merrell's tips for acing a job interview over Skype.

Light yourself well. Your room should be sufficiently lit, with no shadows that can make you look older (or scarier) than you are. Construction lights from Home Depot work well, Miller-Merrell says. "Job seekers can clip the lights to a pole or coat hanger from above, creating a spotlight effect, versus using a table lamp, which will produce shadows."

Dress like a television news anchor. Sure, black is slimming, but solid jewel tones brighten your face without appearing bleak or busy. And while First Lady Michelle Obama may have helped bring sleeveless dresses into the workplace, only do it if you share her impressive biceps, says Miller-Merrell, adding that you should look "comfortable but professional."

Don't slump. Your mom was right -- if you sit up straight, you'll look poised and confident. It can be easy to feel more relaxed when you're not in someone's office for the interview, so make sure you don't appear overly casual.

Look at the camera -- and smile. It can be tempting to repeatedly look at yourself to check your appearance, but once the interview starts, that can be distracting to your interviewer. "I recommend minimizing the screen that displays the video photo of you," says Miller-Merrell. Any delay will be less noticeable if you simply look into the camera and smile confidently.

Set the stage behind you. First of all, clean your workspace. Then set your conversation up in front of a minimally (and, if possible, tastefully) decorated background. Eliminate any clutter, and don't forget to minimize noise. "Turn off the television and phone. If you have children, have a spouse or friend distract them" while you interview]," Miller-Merrell suggests.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Wiki00012

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