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4 helpful tips on how to ace informal interviews

Sromona Bhattacharyya
4th Nov 2016
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In the recent times, the world of employment has seen a marked shift from the standard interview process to a more casual and relaxed informal one. Informal interviews are particularly common among start-ups but a growing number of big companies are also embracing them. As the name suggests, informal interviews apply a more personable approach by inviting potential employees for a casual quick chat.

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For candidates who are new to the whole informal process of interview, the uncertainty of what is going to happen next can be a little daunting and intimidating. But they must remember that the seemingly friendly interview has the same purpose as that of the more strict formal ones. With a little flexibility, it is possible to ace informal interviews. After all, the essential difference between the formal and the informal interview is the fact that the former follows a set of rules that include certain expected questions and a controlled surrounding, while the latter is more fluid and unpredictable.

To help you get started, here are a few tips and tricks to handle and ace informal interviews like a pro.

What to wear?

This is probably the first question that strikes a candidate when an informal interview is coming up. Typically, most candidates dress for interviews in formal wear. But what if your employer plans to meet you at a park or at a coffee shop? No one wants to look out of place! There is more than just one way to dress for an informal interview, you have to use your own judgement, and ensure you dress for the occasion. But do remember, do not dress up too much, or be underdressed for the meet. Also, if you really wish to ace informal interviews, prepare for them just as you would for a more structured one; take the time out to understand how the company works, do a little research to find out

more about the culture of the company and find an outfit that will help you look like a good fit.

Think before you speak

The level of formality coupled with the environment, such as a coffee shop, can play cruel tricks on your brain making you say things that you normally wouldn’t at a formal interview. Throughout the duration of the interview, one should never forget the purpose - you are here to get a job and must make a good impression. Although a little openness is helpful in showing the potential employer your perspective and personality, saying too much too soon is not necessarily the right way to ace informal interviews.

Follow the interviewer’s lead

We all know what to expect at a formal interview and we even know what is expected of the candidate. But at an informal interview, the level of formality or informality is debatable and up for interpretation. The candidate should be quick in observing the difference in the body language, behaviour and tone of voice of the employer and mirror them accordingly to demonstrate that you fit in with the culture of the organisation.

One mustn’t forget that an informal interview will not consist of a question answer session, but it will be more of a conversation where the candidate will be able to express their views, ideologies and opinions on a wide range of matters.

Don’t fight over the bill

If an informal interview includes the purchase of food or beverages, then it is usually followed by an awkward moment while  the bill appears. The candidate should wait and see if the employer looks keen on clearing the cheque, if he is not, then the candidate should offer to pay his share. If the employer does pay, don’t look apologetic or act as if it was unexpected, simply say a generous thank you and move on. Initiating a ‘why did you pay?’ debate will make you look quite unprofessional.

Of course, in addition to these four tips there are plenty of other things that one should keep in mind while going in for an informal interview. Many of the standard rules that work for formal interviews will also help you ace informal interviews – such as showing up on time, being well-groomed and polite.  However, do remember that not every interview will lead to a job, but with every meeting you will learn new things, gain confidence and attain professional growth. So do your best and don’t fret about the outcome.

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