Here at TheEmployable we are always trying to keep up to date with all the shifts, changes and trends occurring in relation to job searching, interviews applications and pretty much everything else connected to searching and applying for jobs.
In recent times we have noticed something of a departure from the standard formal interview process in favour of something a little more relaxed and ‘friendly’. Whilst it is the case that many employers still prefer to conduct their interviews within the strictest of formalities, many businesses, and especially small / new businesses are opting for the more personable approach by inviting potential employees in for ‘a quick chat’ which they feel is more conducive to the culture of their company.
For candidates the uncertainty about what to expect during such an interview can be incredibly daunting, especially if you have never found yourself in such a situation before.
As is the case with a typical interview, how you ‘perform’ during this ‘quick chat’ will determine whether or not you are employed in the role which you seek. Therefore there is no room for complacency, you must give your preparation for the interview the same due diligence that you would a more formal and traditional meeting.
To help you on your way, here are 5 of the things we reckon it is most important to keep in mind before and during an informal job interview.
- What to wear? This is the question which most job seekers struggle with in a situation such as this as they find themselves mulling over a dilemma that goes something like this “The apparent informality of a ‘chat over coffee’ suggests that I should dress in a smart casual manner, but what if my casual clothing comes across as lack of motivation for the role, or a general laid back approach to work?’
Unfortunately there is no ‘tried-and-true’ method to help navigate this issue; the only thing you can do is use your own discretion – if you are applying for a role in which one would normally be expected to wear formal attire, then it will be safest to adhere to this, if your work clothing is normally casual then smart casual interview wear will be most appropriate.
- Research and prepare. Despite the fact that this is an ‘informal chat’ you need to exercise the same level of care and attention to your preparation for the meeting as you would with any other job interview. It is really important that you undertake thorough and comprehensive research about the company and the role for which you are applying.
As an interview like this is more likely to be within a smaller or relatively new business, finding relevant information about them could be something of a challenge. Don’t be too concerned though if this is the case as information which you don’t find can form great questions to ask during the interview.
- Watch your mouth! Given the informality level which has been set by the employer, it is only natural that you will feel more comfortable within the situation than you probably would within a formal interview setting. This can be really useful because it allows you to relax and open up more about your experiences and show off your personality to the prospective employer. However there is a danger that you could begin to get a little more relaxed than you would like to, and in such a case it can be very easy to say something that you will later wish you hadn’t.
Of course the employer will expect you to relax but they will still expect a certain level of professionality and you should be careful not to speak in an overtly negative fashion about a colleague, former/current employer or about your current role. Also be very careful to stay well clear of all profanity as this can leave a very bad impression of you – not necessarily because it suggests you frequently use such language (the employer probably doesn’t care much about this) but because it suggests a lack of professionalism and motivation for the role.
- Don’t argue over the bill. During every interview which includes the purchase and consumption of food or beverages, there comes an awkward moment when the bill arrives or you are paying at a till. It can be really difficult to know if it is appropriate to offer to pay or whether it might come across as presumptions to simply wait for the interviewer to pay. In the vast majority of cases the interviewer will already be resolved to pay the bill which means they will probably be keen to make this clear at the first opportunity.
If you feel uncomfortable with simply letting them pay without at least attempting to make a contribution yourself, you can offer to pay, however this will most likely be immediately refused and when it is you should thank them and say no more on the subject – don’t get into a tug of war over the bill since the outcome is probably predetermined and it could suggest poor judgement / stubbornness on your part.
- Follow the employer’s lead. Many people would actually prefer a formal interview to an informal one because at least within a formal interview you know what is expected of you. In a situation such as a ‘quick chat’ the level of formality is much more open to interpretation. The employer will wish to establish the level of formality that they expect and so It is important to swiftly and carefully observe their; behaviour, language, tone of voice and body language and swiftly alter your behaviour so that it mimics their own.
You should also remember that such an interview will not follow the typical question and answer session which is standard within a formal setting, but should consist of a conversation in which you give your opinion, express your interests, ask questions and generally behave in the way one would expect during a typical conversation.
Of course there are plenty more things which you will need to take into consideration before attending an informal interview, but hopefully these quick suggestions will get you on your way.