Working in an office may well become a thing of the past, with more and more Brits choosing to do their jobs remotely. According to the Office for National Statistics, about 4 million people work remotely – and the figure is predicted to rise to half of the UK workforce in 2020.
Worldwide, more than two-thirds of people work away from the office at least once a week and 50% do so for at least half of the week, a Swiss study found last year.
Thanks to advances in technology, we’re able to take the office anywhere. Smartphones, laptops and tablets allow us to check our emails and keep in touch with colleagues and managers, aided by the growing prevalence of Wi-Fi in public places and faster connectivity.
We’re also able to participate in meetings and take part in interviews via apps and communication platforms like Skype.
Although you can see each other, however, a virtual interview online is not the same as a face-to-face one - so it’s important to prepare accordingly.
Make sure you are set up beforehand
Give yourself plenty of time to set up your laptop and computer and make sure you have Skype open and ready to use. Check your microphone and camera are both on and working, so you don’t panic and get flustered during the interview. If you’ve never used Skype before, it can be a good idea to set up a practice interview with someone first, so you get to grips with the technology.
There are certain perks to working from home, one of which is being able to wear comfortable clothing - rather than being confined to business dress. If you’re taking part in a Skype interview, however, interview etiquette should still apply. Just like with face-to-face interviews, dressing well can make you feel good and put you in the right frame of mind to impress your potential new boss.
It’s important to remember that the interviewer will still be able to see you, so looking smart is key. It might be tempting to wear a shirt with pyjama bottoms, but this could backfire - you never know if you might have to stand up, and you don’t want to be left red-faced.
Check what is in the background
When setting your laptop or computer up before the interview, check what is visible in the background. A clean and tidy neutral area will ensure the focus is on you and what you’re saying - rather than a bright poster or mess behind you.
Set up in a well-lit, quiet area with no distractions, so you can clearly hear the interviewer and they can hear you. It sounds obvious, but the radio or TV should be off too - and it’s a good idea to warn family members or housemates that you are going to be doing an interview, so they don’t walk in unannounced.
Don’t sit too close to the screen, making sure your face, neck and shoulders are visible.
Look at the camera not the screen
It can be unsettling to do an interview virtually, so it is important to act as if you would in a face-to-face interview. Remember to look at the camera, rather than the screen, and don’t forget to smile. If there’s nobody actually in front of you asking the questions, it can be easy to get distracted by cameras, computers or other equipment - but the interview can still see you.
Stay focused and interested
It can be more difficult to stay focused when you’re behind a screen, but this is crucial so the potential employer doesn’t think you’re bored or disinterested - which would certainly reduce your chances of a successful interview.
As the other person can’t see your body movements as easily, it can help to engage in “active listening”. This means adding “listening sounds” - acknowledging and responding to what the interviewer is saying - to assure them you are engaged in the conversation. Avoid having unnecessary tabs open and close any social media platforms.
There are certain perks to doing an interview over Skype. It can reduce stress or pressure to do an interview in the comfort and familiarity of your own home, rather than an office you’ve never visited before. You can also have a list of notes with points you want to make next to you, which you may not have been able to bring along to a face-to-face interview.