Informal Interviews: Just Relax (or Should I?)

I was in our St Kilda Rd office last week and had the chance to meet up with Dan and David from GradConnection. I love what these guys are doing, their business has been around for two years and I really like how they have taken their own experiences from University found a niche in their market and have chased it. These guys are always networking. Whenever they come to Melbourne they send me a tweet to catch up, even though we often miss each other they are persistent. It sounds like their business is going from strength to strength and I have to think that success comes from their hard work and enthusiasm for their business.

Anyway, before my meeting with ProGrad I noticed a tweet from Kevin Wheeler who was saying it was his last day in Melbourne – I sent him a message and we met up that afternoon for a coffee (I am getting to the point I promise). On my way back to the office after my meeting I was on a tram and was sitting beside a lady who was talking to her friend on her mobile. She had just come back from an interview and was telling her friend how laid back the meeting was and how she wasn’t too sure of the next steps of the process as it was a really informal meeting. The recurring theme from this phone call was that 1) her and the interviewer got along really well and had a lot in common 2) the meeting was very informal and relaxed.

I wasn’t at the interview so I cannot say for certain, but in my experience regardless of the type of interview that is happening whether it is a relaxed interview at a coffee shop or a behavioural interview in an office setting one thing is consistent: the employer is assessing your ability to perform the role and fit into the company.

Different interviewers I find have different interviewing styles. For example some interviewers may create a very relaxed environment in the thinking this will draw out less practiced answers and give a more realistic view of the person and their abilities while other interviewers may put the candidate “under the pump” to see how they react in a stressful situation. There are as many interviewing styles as there are interviewers.

I think candidates regardless of the type of interview need to be professional and honest in both their skills/experiences, abilities and career plans (if you know what they are). Even though an interview may be informal, you shouldn’t slip into complacency. You should not forget the end goal of the interview which is to get a job. Business happens outside of the office walls and while you may meet someone for a coffee it is still a business meeting no matter how relaxed the setting. You don’t need to be stick in the mud and not let your personality shine through, but that first impression you make may play a big part in how far in the interview process you go.

One thought on “Informal Interviews: Just Relax (or Should I?)

  1. Nice post David,

    I am definitely one for the informal interview, but seriously, there is a line.

    I have crossed it at times, my interviewees have crossed it at times. But you need to realise when you are doing it.

    I’ve had people lean back and share too much about their partners or even launch into a profanity or two during the interview. Not cool people. But that was not just a failing of the candidate, it was my fault to for letting it get to that level of comfort.

    The interviewer has a level of responsibility to keep things on a professional footing.

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