Interview | Are informal job interviews the way forward?

    Are informal job interviews the way forward?

    When a candidate is invited to a job interview, it is often assumed that this assessment will take place in a formal environment such as the company’s office or at the recruiter’s office.

    However, increasingly recruiters and hiring managers are asking candidates to have an ‘informal chat’ before a formal interview actually takes place.

    Read more from us

    But this relaxed setting really took one jobseeker by surprise, who then took to online forum Reddit to air their confusion.

    Reddit user u/thecrazy_itbreeds explained that they applied for an interview at a job fair and received an email from the recruiter the following day.

    The email from the recruiter read: “[The employer] has looked over your materials and they have decided that they don’t want to set a formal interview with you during the fair, but want you to stop by their booth to meet and do an informal.”

    This message prompted the candidate to write: “What the hell is an ‘informal chat’ going to do for either of us.”

    While some candidates would agree that sitting in a coffee shop, or even a booth at a careers fair is a nicer, more casual way, it seems that this isn’t the general consensus.

    And, in 2017 Recruitment Grapevine reported on a LinkedIn post that reinvigorated the debate as to whether recruiters should interview and assess candidates on neutral turf.

    Peggy McKee, CEO of Career Confidential noted that there are benefits to holding interviews in an offsite setting.

    She wrote: “Choose a place where you can focus on the person. If you have deeper pockets, renting a small conference room at the Holiday Inn Express is a nice touch.”

    So, how can candidates go about an ‘informal chat’? has offered the following tips:

    • Be yourself. Having a casual chat rather than a formal interview makes it easier for a candidate to convey their true personality.
    • It sets the scene. While this might not be a formal interview that leads to a new job, it may leave the recruiters with food for thought going forwards.
    • Ask questions. Even the more awkward questions such as pay and holiday allowances may seem easier to discuss in a more formal setting.

    Would you conduct interviews away from the office? Let us know in the comments…

    Have you enjoyed this piece?

    Subscribe now to myGrapevine+ and get access to exclusive new content, and the full content archive.

    Comments (1)

    • Laura
      Tue, 9 Apr 2019 1:36pm BST
      I previously worked for a professional practice who did this quite a lot. It made a lot of sense for them to see people for an informal chat whilst they were visiting London (we were based in the north) - generally meeting people at a cafe/bar/restaurant to go through their portfolio. If they liked them and we had a vacancy, they'd be asked up for a formal interview but it meant that both sides had a chance to meet without either being caused too much inconvenience.

    You are currently previewing this article.

    This is the last preview available to you for 30 days.

    To access more news, features, columns and opinions every day, create a free myGrapevine account.