Just like many things in the world today, interviews have gone casual. Many recruiters are warming up to the idea of meeting candidates after office hours, usually outside the office. Such informal interviews are nothing to be afraid of. In fact, as a student or graduate seeking an opportunity, you can use this to your advantage and land that dream job.
Here are 5 tips to help you ace that informal interview.
Tip #1: Pick a familiar location
If the interviewer gives you the option of deciding where to meet, use that to your advantage by picking a place that you are familiar with. This way, you will know how to get there (and how long you will need to arrive), know where to park (if you’re driving) and know where to wait. Ideally, the location should be nearby and fairly quiet. If the interviewer decides where to meet, get there early and familiarise yourself with your surroundings. Knowing where the nearest restroom is located is very important (trust me!).
Tip #2: Choose the interview time wisely
Malaysia is the land of traffic jams, so take that into consideration before you decide on when to meet up for an interview. If you decide to opt for ridesharing with Uber or GrabCar, you may want to pick off-peak times to beat the long queues on the roads. Knowing this, you can also propose a venue that is far from the hustle and bustle of the city (although this might seem quite impossible in KL).
Tip #3: Turn the interview into a free-flowing dialogue
Informal interviews commonly take place in cafés or restaurants, so the feeling of being interrogated in a stranger’s office isn’t present. Use this to your advantage. Informal interviews are meant to encourage dialogue between you and your interviewer, so feel free to show your humour and wit. This will also help you loosen up and showcase your pleasant and genuine side, while giving the interviewer the chance to see the real you.
Tip #4: Be wary of temptations
Some interviewers will want to get you in a comfortable setting to judge how you behave when you are relaxed. This doesn’t mean you can discuss matters that are sensitive or irrelevant. Stick to the true purpose of the meeting: to impress the interviewer. Stay on topic and always bring the conversation back to the job if it starts to drift away. If offered an alcoholic drink, decline politely.
Tip #5: Remember to follow up via formal methods
The interview may have been informal, but it is your duty to follow up via formal methods e.g. email or LinkedIn’s InMail. You can opt to thank them for their time soon after the interview (being polite goes very far) and then send them another message asking if they have shortlisted any candidates. The worst thing you can do is to not show you’re interested in hearing back from the interviewer.