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How to do a job interview via Skype

In the good old days, there was the phone interview and then the face to face interview. Now, for a lot of jobs, there's an added middle step -- the Skype interview. These are especially popular for jobs that aren't just around the corner. Before a company is willing to pay to fly you out, they want to talk face to face, and this is the way to do it.

All the regular interview rule apply -- speak slowly and clearly, focus on your accomplishments, don't bad mouth your former employers, and wear proper interview clothing. Don't be tempted to wear jeans and a t-shirt because it's "just" a Skpe interview. (And even though it may be tempting to put on a button down shirt and tie on not bother with nice pants, you could get caught and wind up looking foolish, so dress properly from head to toe.)

For some, being on camera can be anxiety inducing. Add that to the normal job stress anxiety and some people are freaked out at the prospect of a job interview via webcam. Don't be. I spoke with Paul Bailo, author of The Essential Digital Interview Handbook for some tips and tricks.

Know your software. It doesn't matter what software they want to use -- Skype, Google Hang Out, Go To Meeting, or any other program -- it is important that you know how to use it before you go live. Practice by calling your sister, your parents, or friends. Familiarize yourself with how to hit mute without accidentally hanging up.

Get good hardware. Your camera, Bailo says, is probably fine, but your built in computer-made microphone is not. He suggests you buy a good microphone that will give you clear sound. Test it out. Even though bad sound shouldn't affect their decision, it might, particularly if they have trouble understanding you. Also, test your camera for the right angle -- it should be at eye level. Do a quick sound and video check before you go live to make sure everything is set up properly.

Think about where you'll be. You don't it to be too dark, or too light, or (worst of all) have something unseemly behind you. And even though they are darling, Bailo says, "No one wants to see pictures of your kids..sorry!" You can even purchase background paper to give yourself a nice neutral background, but that's not necessary if you can create one yourself.

Think of your user name. It should be professional. It shouldn't detract from who you are and what you can bring to the company. Remember, Skype accounts are free. Create a new one with a professional name if you want to keep your "cool" name for your friends.

Get an "On Air" sign to hang on the door. Unless you're the only one home, your kids, spouse or dishwasher repairman may come barging in during your interview. Make a sign, hang it up, and instruct everyone to stay away. You wouldn't bring your toddler to a face to face interview, so don't have her anywhere near you during a webcam interview.

It's not over until after it's over. Just because you think you've hung up, doesn't mean you have. Bailo says, "Wait two minutes after the camera and audio are turned off -- just in case it isn’t. You don’t want to say or do anything that can negatively impact your performance."

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