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Andrew Arkley|October 29, 2021

Informal Interviews: What Are They And What To Wear To One

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Want to know what exactly an informal interview is?

Usually candidates find an informal interview less stressful, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare!

Read on for an overview of how they work, including a quick guide on what to wear to an informal interview.

We’ll also run through some of the most common informal interview questions – both the ones to revise, as well as the ones to ask.

What is an informal interview?

Whereas a regular interview usually follows a specific structure, determined by the interviewer, an informal interview can have more spontaneity.

Instead of following a formal question and answer format, an informal interview is typically more discursive or conversational.

This is not to be confused with an informational interview – a conversation where you ask questions about a career, industry or company, but you’re not applying for a specific job.

An informal interview often takes place in a neutral, more casual setting than the company’s offices, for example a cafe or a restaurant.  

Alternatively, it could take place as a video call, depending on where you and the interviewer are currently based, or the company’s safe working policy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some companies like using an informal interview to get a better sense of a candidate’s personality, to see how they could fit in with the company culture in a more relaxed setting.

Similarly, some candidates prefer an informal interview because it’s usually less intense.

Don’t take things too easy though. An informal interview is still part of the recruitment process and the interviewer will use it to decide what happens next. 

What to wear to an informal interview

Start by thinking about what staff at your potential future employer would usually wear day to day. 

If you’re not sure, look for photos on the company website, social media or Google.

This gives you a sense of the corporate dress code, but perhaps not how employees would dress down in an informal setting.

So aim for business casual attire – for example, if the workplace dress code is suits only, for an informal interview: 

  • Men could wear a button-down shirt, a tie (optional), a sweater (optional), chinos, dark socks and smart shoes
  • Women could wear a solid colour blouse with a conservative-length skirt or slacks, or a professional dress, with a jacket (optional) 

While you should always dress to impress during a recruitment process, since it’s an informal interview, wearing your smartest clothes may be too much for the informal setting.

That being said, don’t be too casual – it’s risky to wear jeans and best to avoid anything like shorts, sandals and so on. 

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Informal interview questions

Here are some classic informal interview questions to be prepared for: 

  • Could you tell me about yourself?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What made you apply for this particular role?
  • Why do you want to work for us specifically?
  • Are you interviewing with any other companies?

Here are some tips for how to answer these.

You may find there are fewer obvious opportunities to talk about your CV, strengths or career achievements in an informal interview. 

So be proactive – make sure the interviewer leaves the conversation in no doubt about what you have to offer.

You can also take more of a lead than in a formal interview, by asking open questions yourself to keep the discussion flowing, such as:

  • How would you describe the management style / company culture?
  • What do you like most about working here?
  • What are the different career paths in the company?
  • What are the biggest hurdles the team / company faces to achieve its goals?
  • What does an average day or week look like for someone in this role?

For more ideas about informal interview questions you could ask, take a look at our comprehensive guide.

Informal interviews: summary

An informal interview should flow like a natural conversation, as it’s meant to be less structured than a formal one.

Be ready to ask your own questions too and look out for opportunities to emphasise your skills and experience, in case the interviewer doesn’t ask directly. 

It often takes place in a more neutral, relaxed setting, so in terms of what to wear to an informal interview, go for business casual.

Whether you’re hoping for a formal or informal interview, why not speak to our CV writing specialists to make sure your application is the strongest it can be.If you’d like more advice about an informal interview, or any other part of the recruitment process, please feel free to get in touch.

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