In formal interviews, the questions are created based upon the specific requirements of the job and candidates are ranked based upon their answers. Although this is a typical interview format, there are interviews that are much less formal, both in terms of the interaction at the meeting and the questions that are asked.
Here’s a typical example. The manager of a small company decides to do some informal interviews. He has no position currently open, but expects the company to grow. He’s looking to hire some IT professionals soon. Unfortunately, he is not sure what he needs or what type of programmer he should be hiring. He decides to network and meet with some programmers to see what type of services they could provide and compare those services to his anticipated business needs. He doesn’t have predefined questions. He just figured he’d start talking and see where the conversation takes him. After doing a series of informal interviews, the manager creates a position based almost entirely upon the skills and abilities of one of the candidates he met. That was the candidate to whom he offered the position.
In this case, the informal interview was used to help create the requirements of the job at the same time as finding a good candidate for the position. However, a company can use the informal interview process anytime. Basically, an informal interview is defined as one in which a casual discussion takes place with no set agenda. The meeting can take place at the office, or in a coffee shop or some other place with a relaxed atmosphere.
Companies that use informal interviews include consulting companies and companies going through periods of growth or change. Consulting companies very often use informal interviews to help gather prospects. Again, no position may be open, but by meeting with candidates from various fields of specialty, the consulting company readies itself for what may come up and thus meet the needs of its clients when the opportunity arises.
Companies going through a tremendous amount of change may also use the informal interview process to help define how they can manage their human resources to build the company they think they need to become. Basically, companies may use the informal interview to help gauge the human resources opportunities currently in the marketplace in order to better define the direction they will take.
Some Tips for the Job Seeker
Any candidate going to an informal interview should still take great care to prepare for the interview. The informal interview is still an interview and the candidate is still being considered as to whether he can meet some type of need within the company.
In an informal interview, a recruit should dress based upon the location of the meeting and the type of position that might open itself. If the meeting is held in a coffee shop and the position is as a casual clothing designer, jeans might be appropriate. If the meeting is in the same coffee shop and the position is that of an IT project manager, business casual is a better choice.
Because informal interviews are often set up in order for the company to gather information regarding what type of position they wish to create or how to define the requirements of a position they will be opening, it’s important to remember that the company is looking for ideas. It’s essential to sell yourself, but you should be careful about selling your ideas in too great detail. The last thing you want is for the company to take your ideas and ask someone else to run with them.
It’s also impossible to anticipate what might happen in an informal interview. It’s not unusual to get a job offer on the spot. It’s also not unusual that the informal interview never turns into an open position. There’s no telling what will happen, so you should be prepared for anything.
Is It Worth It?
Since many informal interviews are done prior to the company actually posting a position, many candidates wonder if the informal interview is worth preparing for. The answer is a definite “YES”. You have the opportunity not only to sell yourself, but also your ideas for the future. You may have an input in creating your own job requirements and responsibilities.
The best part about an informal interview is that you are engaging in an unscripted dialog with the hiring manager. You don’t have to just answer questions, but can ask questions to get a feel for where the company is going and how the company is managing itself. The hiring manager should still steer the conversation, but you have some control over where that conversation goes.
Bottom line, in an informal interview, you need to evaluate the company based upon your own personal goals. You need to determine how you would fit within the company’s plans and whether you want to be part of what comes next.
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List of the different interview types:
- The Video Interview
- The Informal Interview
- The Technical Interview
- The Phone Interview
- The Structured Interview
- The Scenario Interview
- The Assessment Event
- The Second Interview
- The Panel Interview
- The Lunch Interview
- The Group Interview
- The Behavioral Interview