Before getting stuck into what to do or how to act during an informal interview, it is well worth understanding why they’ve become such a popular choice for companies. These types of interviews present themselves most commonly in two types of situations - the first is that the job description of the position is still very much in the works, and employers are looking to adapt it to the unique skills of their new hire. In this case, they want to present an opportunity and see how much you’re willing to bring forth to the role as a candidate, and so keeping in mind that there may be no set budgets for salaries and instead focussing on finding out if you’re a good fit with the organisation and their company culture (and vice-versa, importantly), is the primary goal of such a meeting.
The second type of situation a company may choose to conduct an informal interview in is the final stages of candidate selection, so that they can see how much of a personality fit a candidate may have to the position they’re being considered for. This may also be the case if a company really wants you on board, but cannot meet your salary expectations or want to negotiate with your requirements from the positon, so it can very well turn into a sales pitch with you on the other end of the negotiation.
Some of the basic rules that come with any interview still apply to an informal interview - it is important to look presentable and show up on time: even if you’re meeting at a more casual setting like a coffee shop or restaurant, maybe save the ripped jeans for once you know your boss a little better and opt for plain trousers and a simple shirt or dress instead. One of the best (and also challenging) parts of these type of meetings is that they’re conversational and lack the rigid structure of a formal interview, which means you can allow your personality to come through more than you would be able to otherwise. This does mean, however, that it is necessary to remain proactive about discussing your strengths or your passion for the position, especially if you’re still vying to be selected. You can direct the conversation this way by asking questions about the role, the organisation in general, and being genuinely engaged with how you see yourself being able to contribute to its development.
\Following up on points you’ll have discussed during a first interview or indicating that you’ve conducted research on the organisation can also be great ways to direct conversation while proving you have a passion and active interest in joining the team. Be cautious you don’t fall into the trap of oversharing information or confusing the casual setting for one that makes the tone of your meeting casual as well. It is probably best to refrain from talking negatively about past positions, or revealing all your cards about competing job offers that may discourage a hirer from taking you on. If a recruiter decides to offer you a job immediately after the interview, do not be hesitant to ask for some time to mull it over – and regardless of the outcome, be sure to follow up with an email thanking them for the chance to meet up again.
Thought this was helpful? We have more tips on acing your interview and landing that dream job over on our articles page.