Informal interview tips

Written by beth winston
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Informal interview tips
An informal interview might be conducted over a meal. (waiter setting table in restaurant image by Stephen Orsillo from Fotolia.com)

Some firms use several different interviewing techniques when hiring new talent. An early stage interview in this scenario may be conducted in an informal manner. It’s usually one-on-one with an executive or human resource professional from the hiring firm, and can be conducted away from the worksite over a meal or other informal setting. It’s designed to explore your personality and goals, and to test how good of a “fit” you may be with the culture of the company you want to join.

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Brush up on Small Talk

A portion of an informal interview will inevitably be given over to chatty “small talk,” which gives you a chance to show off how personable and engaging you can be. Have a number of neutral topics in the back of your mind that you can call on during a lull in conversation. They could be sports, entertainment or current affairs of a non-controversial type. This shows that you are interested in the world and in touch with events. Be careful not to stray into partisan politics though--there’s too big a risk you will offend.

Personal Stories

Be prepared in this type of interview to reveal a little more of your personal self than you might in a more formal interview. Beforehand, consider where your boundaries are in terms of personal stories, and what aspects of your background are appropriate to share. The interviewer will be looking for a good balance of openness, with an ability not to “over share,” or stray into inappropriate topics.

Use the Format to Your Advantage

The interviewer in this situation is not likely to ask you probing and systematic questions about your job experience. She may wait for you to take the lead. You can take advantage of this more informal setting to ask questions about the job and the company. As you glean more information, take the opportunity to drop in some stories about your professional life that will illustrate why you’re the perfect fit for the job. Look on this as an excellent way to prep yourself for a more formal interview later in the hiring process.

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