How to nail an informal interview

You applied for a position in a company, instead of getting an interview invitation, you get a phone call from your potential employer for a meeting in a park or coffee place. It sounds out of place, right? No, it’s not, nowadays companies are shifting from much-formalized interviews to more casual and relaxed ways of getting to know their potential employees. Employers also take this opportunity to observe how the candidate behaves in an informal setting as well as ask questions to evaluate their personality and culture fit within the organization.

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How do you dress?

Since the interview is probably going to be in an informal setting, you need to ensure that you are neither too dressed up nor under-dressed. The employer does not necessarily expect you to dress up like in a formal interview. Use your own judgment based on the venue, day of the week and time, but make sure you look presentable.

Research well on the company and other related issues

This point cannot be overemphasized. You need to know about how the company works and the culture fit. Remember that unlike in a formal interview, an informal meeting will not involve questions and answers from the employer. Instead, it will be a conversation where you would be expected to express your ideologies, beliefs, and perspectives on the company, industry and other issues.

Make a good impression by your thoughts and speech

An informal environment may make it hard to know what to say and how to say it. Be open enough to show your personality and perspective on the various issues, however, do not speak too much. Take time to organize your thoughts and to know what to say.

Remember to be polite throughout the interview and don’t interrupt when the interviewer is speaking. Instead, wait for your turn and speak slowly maintaining eye-contact.

Observe and follow the interviewer’s lead

It is quite unpredictable to know how to behave in an informal setting. You should be quick to observe the interviewer’s body language, the tone of voice and behavior. This sets the nature of the company’s culture which you should similarly portray.

What do you carry?

Carry a pen and a notebook to jot down important points you will discuss. You can also carry a copy of your resume in case it might be needed. Most importantly, carry with you an enthusiastic and positive attitude.

Who pays the bill?

This may be an awkward moment where you are not sure on who clears the bill. You should be keen to see if the employer offers to clear the amount. If not, you should be prepared to pay your own share. If the employer pays, don’t fight over the bill or ask questions, instead show appreciation by saying  “thank you”.

Follow up after the meeting

When the meeting is over, thank the employer for giving you the chance to meet. Then ask for a business card. You could then send a thank you note and also use the contact to follow up. Remember, this is not an assurance that you have the job though in some cases you could get on-the-spot offers.

Take every meeting professionally, be there on time, speak wisely and just like a formal interview, you need to be equally prepared and give the best impression.


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