What is an Informal Interview and How Does It Work?

For many years, interviews were highly formal affairs, requiring you to dress in your
interview suit. Interviews are still conducted in this manner in several businesses. However, just as many companies have adopted a more relaxed atmosphere, so have interviews. 

An informal interview is not the same as an “informational interview,” as the term implies. 

When an employer or recruiter is actively searching to hire someone, an informal interview takes place as part of the job application process. 

An informative interview is a type of networking in which one individual contacts another to learn more about a position, company, or industry. There is no definite information at this time, and the meeting is merely informative. 

Informal interviews are not the same as the traditional face-to-face interview with a
recruiter. 

Although not all firms use them, those that find that candidates are more relaxed, making it easier to assess their personality and if they will fit into the company’s culture. 

Informal interviews may be employed at the beginning of the selection process, which is typically the case when a company isn’t actively recruiting but is always interested in talking to really suitable applicants for whom they would create a post. 

It could also reflect the company’s management style. Many modern organizations with entrepreneurial management teams operate in a relaxed manner, and interviewing new hires is likely to be no exception. 

A company might even invite you to this type of meeting towards the end of a formal selection process, especially if they’re eager to offer you the job but have a few last questions or specifics to work out.

They may not offer you the income you desire, but they will try to persuade you to join them or they may wish to tweak the role somewhat to better fit your skills. Alternatively, they may simply want to ensure that you’re interested in this position for the correct reasons, such as a pay cut or increased responsibility. 

Informal interviews, for whatever reason, make it simpler to have these kinds of interactions, which is one reason they’re so popular with many businesses. 

Why Do Employers Opt for Informal Interviews?

When a corporation is still figuring out the particular details of a work, it is common for them to choose this choice. Employers can use what they learn from informal interviews to flesh out the particular tasks and expectations for the role by meeting with a diverse group of candidates without a clear job description. 

Employers may also use this option if financing does not begin formal interviewing. The employer may consider another function for the existing employee and hence want to look for alternative candidates before reassigning or ending them. Executive recruiters, for example, may merely look for talent for potential clients. 

In addition, casual interviews may be a better fit for some firms’ cultures. There may not even be office space available at start-up companies. 

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Getting Ready for a Casual Interview

Candidates may face new obstacles because of the more relaxed interview style: 

  • How should you dress? 
  • What should you bring with you? 
  • How should you conduct yourself? Prepare as thoroughly as you would for a more formal, traditional job interview for a “chat,” “coffee date,” or any other casual interview. 
  • Research the company, its goods and/or services, challenges, accomplishments, and competitors. 
  • Be prepared to talk about your career path and long-term ambitions, as well as assets and strengths that have helped you offer value to different projects and roles. 
  • Be ready to give concrete examples and tell tales about the activities you’ve done and the outcomes you’ve achieved. 
  • You should have ideas on how you’d fit into the firm and what a good role you could play there, just like you would in a formal interview. 
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If you’re meeting in person, for example, you’ll need to know where to go and how to recognize your interviewer. It’ll also be crucial to attend on time, dressed suitably (more on that below), and with no technical issues for virtual casual interviews.

What Can I Wear to an Informal Interview?

Because this is an informational meeting, you don’t need to dress professionally unless
that’s how you always dress for work. Otherwise, depending on your profession, business casual or start-up casual clothes are fine. 

Of course, even if your attire is more casual, you should still dress in a clean, wrinkle-free outfit that would be appropriate in the company’s office. In that manner, your look won’t detract from your qualifications in front of the interviewer. 

If you’re meeting through video chat, make sure the video background isn’t distracting,
and you meet in a peaceful part of your home away from children and pets. However, because this is a more casual interview, don’t be too concerned if a dog barks or your youngster wanders in. 

What Should I Bring?

If you’re meeting in person, bring extra copies of your CV, a portfolio with a notebook
and pen so you can take notes, and your business card, if you have one. 

It’s helpful to have a copy of your CV printed out (to serve as a reminder) and a pen and paper on hand for video meetings and phone calls. 

Who Handles the Payment?

When you’re invited to meet for a cup of coffee or a meal with a recruiter, they’ll pay for
it. There’s no need to make a payment offer. However, express gratitude to the recruiter or hiring manager. 

What Questions Can I ask the Recruiter?

Because you may not have been given a formal job description, one advantage of a less
formal interview is that you can ask some questions early on to discover more about potential options. 

“Can you tell me a little more about why you’ve reached out to me?” and similar queries or “You mentioned some prospective changes in your operations; could you tell me more about how someone like me might fit into that picture?” would help you gain a better understanding of which of your assets might best fulfill the employer’s objectives. 

It will also assist you in determining whether you are interested in the position. 

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Are There Offers Made on the Spot?

In some situations, you may be offered a position right away or shortly after your interview. For example, one job seeker went from receiving a LinkedIn message about openings at a company to meeting with a recruiting manager over coffee and receiving a job offer from the CEO three days later. Interviewers are typically eager to lock in a prospect when the fit is right. 

If the recruiter surprises you with a specific opportunity, be ready to express your delight and gratitude, but keep in mind that you have the option of processing the new information and getting back to them as soon as possible.

Don’t feel obligated to make a choice on the spot about whether to pursue the job. 

#1. Be Careful What You Say

The inclination to speak too freely in an informal meeting is a danger. Even if recruiters appear down to earth or as if they are attempting to sell you on a company, keep in mind that what you say or do will be recorded and factored into their evaluation. 

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Mention nothing disparaging about a colleague, former supervisor, or previous
employer with this in mind. Even if the recruiter appears to have let his or her hair down, keep things professional. 

It’s also a good idea to request that the recruiter keep the meeting private so that your
current employment isn’t jeopardized. That is understandable, but it is preferable to ensure that word of your meeting does not reach your current workplace. 

#2. Be Wary About What You Disseminate

Some recruiters will meet with you informally to pick your brain about other applicants, especially if they think their opening isn’t right for you. 

Gather as much information as possible about the position, but don’t reveal any of your
contacts’ names until you’ve cleared it with them. Your connections may not want to be associated with a specific recruiter or appear to be looking for work for a variety of reasons. 

#3. Follow Up After the Meeting

So that you have the information you need to follow up, ask the individual you met for his or her business card. It’s critical to follow up following the meeting, especially if you believe the recruiter may have viable opportunities available.

Because a key objective of their meeting may have been to gauge your level of interest, make sure your follow-up email or letter expresses your desire to learn more. 

If you’ve learned about a position or role that interests you, identify a few key skills that could help you contribute to the company’s success. 

If the recruiter has expressed any reservations or sections of your background that don’t seem to fit, try to provide them with information that will allay their fears. 

Send a thank-you note even if you aren’t interested in the firm. If you haven’t already done so, invite the recruiter to connect with you on LinkedIn. Even if the timing and job aren’t a good fit right now, a simple cup of coffee could lead to a future career possibility. 

How do I Get Ready for an Informal Interview?

There are some guidelines to help you prepare for an informal interview. Below are some.

#1. Do your Homework

Conduct extensive study into the company, its products and/or services, and its accomplishments. Determine who the company’s key competitors are. Look at the company’s blog and social media pages.

Check LinkedIn to see if you’re connected to anyone who works there and could provide you with insider knowledge about the firm, its culture, and even the department where you’d be working. 

#2. Examine the Task

If the interview is for a specific position, read the job description carefully and think about what the employer is looking for in a candidate. Make a list of the essential abilities, expertise, and traits for the position. 

#3. Match your Skills to the Job

Assess your own qualifications and connect them to the work criteria once you’ve discovered the abilities required for success in the role. 

Make a list of up to ten assets, which should include skills, certifications, abilities, knowledge, and education. Consider particular instances in which you applied some of your skills in previous roles. 

#4. Be Ready to talk about your Career Plan.

Be prepared to talk about your long-term career objectives. Make a list of the skills that have helped you contribute value in past jobs. 

#5. Bring your Own Ideas.

Prepare a list of suggestions for how you might fit into the firm and add value to your job.

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Informal Interview Tips

Look at these pointers to help you do well in an informal interview. They include:

  • Pose inquiries.
  • Prepare questions to ask the interviewer, just as you would for a formal interview. You could ask the following questions: 
  • “Could you tell me a little more about why you contacted me?” 
  • “How do you see the firm changing in the coming year?” 
  • “Can you tell me what you enjoy about your job?” 
  • “What do you enjoy about working for the company?” says the interviewer. 
  • “Can you tell me about any of the company’s current challenges?” 
  • “How do you think I’ll fit in?”    
  • Materials should be brought.
  • Bring your business card, a portfolio, and a pen and paper to take notes, besides extra copies of your CV.   
  • Pay close attention.

During the interview, exercise active listening skills because you may need to repeat particular points to keep the conversation running smoothly.

Make eye contact, nod in agreement with the interviewer, smile to show you’re interested, and restate key ideas in your own words. “I’d like to go back to what you mentioned…”, for example, or “I agree with you regarding…” 

Other tips that would help you do well in the interview include;

Maintain Vigilance

Because informal interviews are informal, it is easier for candidates to speak too freely. However, keep in mind that the interviewer will pay close attention to everything you say and do. Maintain a professional demeanor and not disparage former employers, managers, or coworkers.   

Wear a Business Casual or Smart-casual Outfit

Because the interview is informal, depending on the industry, you should dress in business casual or smart casual. Jeans with a blazer, a button-down shirt with khakis, a jacket with a t-shirt underneath and fine jeans, or a great top with fitted jeans are all examples of smart casual. 

Be Ready to Accept an Offer

You can be offered a job on the spot or immediately after the interview in rare situations. Prepare to show your delight, but don’t feel obligated to decide right away. Allow yourself time to consider whether the position is a suitable fit for you. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an informal interview mean?

An informal interview usually takes place in a more relaxed or casual setting such as over coffee or lunch.

How do you start an informal interview?

Initiate contact 

What is formal and informal interview?

A formal interview is the most common form of interview. It is the traditional form of interview wherein an employer and a candidate converse in a professional environment. An informal interview usually takes place in a casual atmosphere. 

Can you wear jeans to an informal interview?

Aim to dress in professional attire, even if interviewing for a company with a relaxed dress code.

What do you say in an informal chat about your job?

Ask what the employees do for fun in and out of work, ask about your interviewer’s hobbies.  

Conclusion

Informal interviews are a terrific way to show a recruiter how valuable you could be to their company.  

Informal interviews, which take place in a less formal atmosphere, allow a potential employer to examine your personality type and communication style without the constraints of a standard office setting.  

While intended to be informal, informal interviews nonetheless necessitate the same level of preparation as a formal interview. 
 

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