How To Prepare for an Informal Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 28, 2022 | Published January 3, 2020

Updated July 28, 2022

Published January 3, 2020

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A person asks the person opposite them a question while holding a document in their hand.

Informal interviews are a great opportunity to share with a recruiter what value you could bring to an organization. Held in a casual setting, informal interviews allow the potential employer to observe your personality type and communication style without the formalities of an office environment. While designed to be casual, informal interviews still require the same level of preparation you would put into a traditional interview.

In this article, we walk you through preparing for an informal interview, provide tips for impressing the recruiter during the interview and go over the steps you should take to follow up afterward.

What is an informal interview?

Informal interviews are interviews that take place outside the office in a casual setting, such as over lunch or coffee. Informal interviews are not structured like a traditional interview, although they typically have the same goal: to determine if a candidate would be a good fit for a company. Informal interviews are also sometimes used to assess whether a candidate is interested in joining a company.

How to prepare for an informal interview

Here are the basic steps you can follow to prepare for an informal interview.

1. Do your research

Conduct in-depth research on the organization, its products and/or services and its achievements. Identify who its main competitors are. Review the company blog and social media sites.

Look on LinkedIn and see if you’re connected with anyone who works there who might give you insider information about the company, its culture and even the department in which you would be working.

Read more: The Complete Guide to Researching a Company

2. Analyze the job

If the interview is to discuss a specific position, take the time to analyze the job description and consider what the company is looking for in a candidate. Make a list of the key skills, knowledge and qualities required for the role.

3. Match your qualifications

Once you have identified the skills critical for success in the role, assess your own qualifications and match them to the job requirements. Create a list of up to 10 assets, including skills, certifications, abilities, knowledge and education. Think of specific examples where you used some of your skills in previous positions.

Related: How To Tailor Your Resume To a Job Description (With Example)

4. Be prepared to discuss your career path

Be prepared to discuss the long-term goals you have for your career. Itemize the strengths that have helped you add value in previous positions.

5. Come with ideas

Be prepared with ideas for how you would fit into the company and the value you would bring to your position.

Related: 5 Tips for Staying Positive During an Interview

Informal interview tips

Look at these tips to help you perform your best during an informal interview.

Ask questions

Just like a formal interview, come prepared with questions to ask the interviewer. Some questions you could ask are:

  • Can you tell me a little more about why you reached out to me?

  • What changes do you see in the company over the next year?

  • What do you like about your job?

  • What do you like about working for the company?

  • What are some challenges the company is currently dealing with?

  • How do you see me fitting in?

Related: 10 Smart Questions To Ask in an Interview

Bring materials

Besides extra copies of your resume, bring your business card and a portfolio with a pen and paper so you can take notes.

Related: 21 Job Interview Tips: How To Make a Great Impression

Listen closely

It’s important to practice your active listening skills during the interview, as you may need to repeat specific details to keep the conversation flowing smoothly. Make eye contact, nod in response to what the interviewer is saying, smile and show you’re engaged and rephrase important points in your own words. For example, you could say, “I’d like to go back to something you said…” or “I agree with you regarding…”

Keep your guard up

Because of the casual nature of informal interviews, it is easy for candidates to speak too freely. But remember that the interviewer will still take careful note of what you say and do. Keep things on a professional level and avoid saying anything negative about former employers, supervisors or coworkers.

Related: Interview Vocabulary Words To Use During a Job Interview

Dress in business casual or smart casual

Because the interview is informal, you should wear business casual or smart casual, depending on the industry. Examples of smart casual are jeans with a blazer, a button-down shirt with khakis, a blazer with a t-shirt underneath and nice jeans, or a nice top with tailored jeans.

Related: Guide To Business Attire (With Examples)

Be prepared for an offer

In some cases, you may find that you’re offered a job on the spot or shortly after the interview. Be prepared to express your excitement but don’t feel compelled to decide on the spot. Give yourself time to reflect on whether the position would be a good move for you.

Read more: Guide: Next Steps After You Got a Job Offer

How to follow up after an informal interview

After an informal interview, it’s important to follow-up in an email or letter. Here are the steps you should use to follow up.

1. Promote your interest

Use the follow-up letter to reiterate your interest in the company or the job that’s available. 

2. Address any reservations

If you noticed that there are any areas of your background that don’t quite fit the position or if you detect any other reservations the interviewer may have, use the letter to provide information that would counter those concerns.

3. Review examples of letters

Review examples of follow-up letters to get a better idea of what you should include.

4. Proofread the letter

Always proofread your letter for grammatical mistakes or typos before sending it. Read the letter out loud to ensure you don’t miss anything or even send it to someone else to proof. Double-check the name of the recipient as well and spell it exactly as they have it on their business card or any emails they have sent you.

Related: Writing a Follow-up Email: Tips, Template and Example

5. Send within 24 hours

Send your letter within 24 hours of the interview and even sooner if you’re sending an email.

Related: Next Steps after Interviewing for Your Dream Job

This video will be your guide on taking that next step to follow up after an interview while avoiding worrying or second guessing!

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