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An informal interview is that kind of an interview process which takes place in a casual setting, preferably over lunch or coffee.

Interestingly, for candidates who are new to the process of informal interviews, the uncertainty surrounding the outcome can be a little intimidating and daunting.

The difference between a formal and an informal interview lies in the fact that the former allows a set of fixed rules and a controlled environment whereas the latter is more fluid and capricious.

However, the aim of the interviewer is the same, i.e. to assess whether the candidate is suitable to fit into the organization.

Informal interviews are also used to assess the interest of the candidates in joining an organization. These types of open interview sessions are often a stepping stone to the formal process of interview and allow the candidates and recruiters to size each other up.

According to Robert Walters, the director of Shay Peters, the sole aim of the interviewer in an informal interview is to assess whether the candidate is compliant with the culture of the organization.

1. Informal Interviews Are Less Stressful

Unlike the traditional formal process of interviews, informal interviews are less stressful. They often take place outside of the organization in the absence of an interview board. But it is also important to remember that informal interviews are still an integral part of the selection process.

Moreover, these meetings could indicate to the recruiter a lot of things that you realize. Hence, as a candidate for the job, you should never take informal interviews lightly. It is also an important aspect to note that informal meetings are arranged at bookstores and coffee shops. So that traditional face to face ambiance is replaced by a more fluid environment.

This is another reason that these types of interviews are less demanding on the nerves.

2. The Why and How of Informal Interviews

Informal interviews are getting increasingly common, but they can be bewildering for the newbies. It is also vital to note that informal interviews also save the organization a great deal of time and monetary resources in the recruiting phase. ]Instead of three or four managers spending more than an hour in a formal interview setting, one can verify your suitability for the job role in case of an informal interview.

As per the opinion of the executive consultant of Parker Bridge, Danielle Ross, informal interview sessions take into account a lot of soft and hard skills of the candidate.

So, never take an informal interview session lightly as it carries the same importance as that of a formal interview. The only difference is the environment of the interview process.

3. Always Be Prepared to Ask Questions

Unlike a formal interview which is more of a problem answer round, an informal discussion is more of an even exchange of thoughts and ideas. A prominent feature of informal interviews is in the form of the fact that the candidate can ask open-ended questions.

Moreover, according to Chron, to keep the flow of conversation natural, both the interviewer and interviewee are responsible. You can opt to ask the open-ended question to maintain the communication process. Workbloom thinks that you can ask questions like “What changes do you see in the company?” “How do you see me in the job role?” etc.

4. Be a Good Listener During the Informal Interview Session

It is a widely accepted fact that to be an excellent communicator, you need to be a good listener. The same applies in an informal interview session. You need to pay close attention to every word spoken by the hiring manager.

It is also of utmost importance to notice each detail so that you can clear your doubts in the later process. On the other hand, maintaining eye contact is of great importance as this would serve as a message to the recruiter that you are attentive.

Moreover, in informal settings, distractions are a standard part. So, it is best to look in the eye of the interviewer to reap success in the later phases.  

5. Homework Is an Integral Part of an Informal Interview Session

Preparation is a ubiquitous aspect of any assessment, and informal interviews are not an exception to it. You have to be prepared to take on the challenge of an informal meeting.

Familiarize yourself with the structure of the company and its present position in the market. In case the interviewer asks, “What do you like about our company?” the last thing you want is to fumble.

Hence, it is vital that you properly conduct your research. Furthermore, proper knowledge of the various aspects of the company would help you to give a solid base for your answers. This would depict your credibility in front of the interviewer which in turn is beneficial for you.

6. Do Not Fight over the Bill

According to your story, if an informal interview process comprises of buying beverages and foods, then it is an awkward moment when the bill arrives. In these types of situations, you should wait and see if the recruiter is keen on clearing the bill.

However, if the recruiter does not seem too interested to explain the bill, then the candidate should offer to pay his or her share. Do not ever start a “why did you pay?” debate as this would make you look unprofessional.

7. What to Wear in an Informal Interview Session?

No one wants to look out of place, and when the context is an informal interview session, the candidates are usually baffled about their dress codes. Watches could be a good option to accessorize your outfit.  

However, it is essential that you have to use your judgment and select your dress accordingly. You can also research a little bit about the culture of the company and find an outfit that would look ideal on you.

It is important to note that throughout an informal interview, the sole purpose of you is to get the job. Hence, you must cast a good impression on the interviewer so that he or she sees the future of her company in you.                

Written By
Harsh is the co-founder of Fynd, a first-of-its-kind, e-commerce fashion platform, with a live inventory of 8K plus stores catering to more than 8 million customers. He is an engineer from IIT Bombay and has 7+ years of experience in the field of Fashion Retail, Hospitality, Management Consulting and Human Resources.

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