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7 ways to make use of an informal interview

interview tips

There is a lot of pressure when it comes to formal interviews, for both the candidate and the interviewer. Let’s say your resume has proved your worth, but boss doesn’t quite want to commit to a formal interview. Enter ‘The Chat’.

“Hey why don’t you come into our office for a casual chat?”

Don’t fool yourself into believing this is anything less than an interview. You should be just as prepared for this type of meeting as a formal interview, as it’s the first time they are going to meet you and have a chance to get to know who you are before deciding whether to move along the hiring process.

An informal interview is often at a cafe, over the phone, or even in the office. Here are some rules to follow so you don’t miss the mark:

1. Be as professional as in a ‘real’ interview. Be on time, cordial, polite, and prepared to answer why you want this job. Make sure you have a mental recap of your past work experience and that you’ve done your research on the company.

2. Come prepared with questions. This is also a chance for you to find out more about the job and show that you’re eager. The best part about this is you can ask more casual questions than you would at a formal interview (but don’t get too casual), such as asking the interview about why they like working there.

3. Dress up. Casual refers to the dialogue, not the dress code. Go for something like a casual blazer with a dress shirt with jeans, or for women with a smart dress. You want to look well put together, but not like you’re trying too hard. Don’t turn up to a cafe meeting in a full suit or five-inch heels.

4. Be personable. This interview is a good opportunity for a potential employers to get a feel of your personality. Be friendly, make jokes (tasteful ones!), smile a lot and don’t be afraid of the small talk to kick off. Ask them how their day is going, and offer up information about yourself to get the conversation flowing.

5. Don’t push too hard. If the vibe isn’t there, don’t push it. Be courteous and see the chat through professionally, then end it on a positive note - but without leaving any doubt that this is the end of the road. Such as, “thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me. I’m not sure this role is exactly what I’m looking for right now, but I really appreciate your help in finding out more about your business”.

6. Tap into their networks. If the purpose of your casual chat is to find out more about a new type of role or the industry as a whole, don’t be afraid to ask them to connect you with other people who can also help give you advice and guidance. Particularly if the conversation is going well, they typically won’t mind helping out a young professional.

7. Who picks up the tab? If it’s just a coffee, the general rule is that you should always offer, but typically if they have invited you, then they will pick up the check. If they’ve invited you for a fancy lunch, they will also pay for the interaction. However, if they’re doing you a favour by meeting at your request, then you should always be prepared to pay.

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