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What are informal interviews? How can you prepare for informal interviews? Why are informal interviews used? If these are questions on your mind, look no further than this guide.

In this text, we dive into depth on all you’ll need to know about informal job interviews. We explain what informal interviews are, and what happens in them, and the top tips that you can use to prepare for an informal interview.

Not sure if you should practise to prepare for your informal job interviews? In a nationwide recruiter survey, Yello (2020) found that 51% of recruiters use interview scheduling software. A further 28% are considering the move.

A recent study found that 30% of SMEs interviewed used a mix of formal and informal approaches such as an informal interview in their recruitment processes.

Butt and Zeb (2016)

Let’s check out what’s to come in this super simple guide:


  1. What are Informal Interviews?
  2. Why are Informal Interviews used?
  3. What happens During Informal Interviews?
  4. How to Prepare for an Informal Interview?
  5. Common Informal Job Interview Questions
  6. Questions to ask in an Informal Interview
  7. Informal Interview FAQs

Let’s get started! 

What are Informal Interviews?

An informal interview, also known as an informal chat interview, is a type of job interview without a set structure. These interviews are often taken in a relaxed environment, such as a coffee shop where the employer will have a more casual conversation to get to know the applicant.

Informal interviews are more commonly used for entry-level positions or graduate programmes at the start of the recruitment process and are designed to give both the interviewer and you a chance to get to know each other and discuss whether the role fits your skills.

Good to know: As well as getting to know you, the interviewer will also use informal interviews to gain a better understanding of how you behave, your motivations and your workplace personality.

Why are Informal Interviews Used?

The HR or recruiters of a company may prefer to use a one-on-one informal job interview when they want to better assess your work personality in a more casual setting. 

Here are 3 key reasons why employers use informal job interviews: 

  1. Creating a more relaxed environment
    • One of the primary reasons for conducting informal interviews is to have a more relaxed and open atmosphere for you and the interviewer to discuss the role and the requirements in more detail.
    • These are usually held as initial steps in the recruitment process, so will cover the job beyond what has been mentioned in the job description.
  1. Discussing the role in detail
    • In informal interviews, you also get the opportunity to gain more insight into the company culture and work environment around the job, as well as asking any question that you might have. 
    • This allows you to gain a better understanding of the position, which could help you to confirm whether the job is the best fit for you. 
  1. Assess the personality of the candidate
    • These interviews are held by recruiters to check whether you are a good fit for the workplace. This can include assessing your interpersonal skills, communication style, and cultural fit. 
    • By engaging in a more relaxed conversation, the interviewer may observe how effectively you communicate your ideas and thoughts. 

Good to know: Recruiters want to get a “feel” of you as a candidate, so it’s important to get them to like you to succeed. Show you are interested through active listening and engaging in conversation.

What Happens During Informal Interviews?

In informal interviews, the interviewer usually picks up a casual or relaxed location (if not virtual) such as a cafe. The interview is treated more like a relaxed conversation and is less structured than what happens in a traditional job interview. Often, there is no set marking criteria used across all candidates.

During these informal job interviews, the interviewer will discuss topics around the job as well as some informal interview questions, such as: 

  • Your background: Here, you may be asked questions around your personal and professional background, as well as your education and any past professional experiences. 
  • Your Interests: You could be asked to elaborate on their interests and hobbies listed in your CV/Resume. Consider how your interests align with their professional achievements.
  • Your and the Employer’s Goals: The employer may want to get a better sense of your interest in the company and the position. They may also discuss their own goals or the department’s specific goals which the job can support.
  • Job Requirements: Your interviewer may go through the job description in more detail and ask whether you have any questions about the requirements. Ensure to read the job description again ahead of the interview!
  • Expectations: The recruiter may also lay out more detailed expectations of the organisation from the role on a day-to-day basis. This is also a good opportunity to provide your expectations for the job. 

Good to know: It is important to be aware that not all questions can be prepared well before an informal interview as there may be many on the spot questions. To best answer these questions, be honest and consider how your ambitions and experiences align with the job. 

How to Prepare for an Informal Interview?

Informal interviews can be an opportunity to showcase your personality, skills, and experience in a more relaxed setting. Even though it may seem there is no particular structure in informal job interviews, there is always an underlying pattern that we can prepare for.

Here are our top tips to prepare ahead of your interview, and some tips you can use to ace during the informal interview:

Before the Interview
  1. Research the Company
    • It is really important to do your research before the interview. Check the company’s website and social media to learn about the kind of work the company does, the products and services, and the company values. Consider how these interest you.

Don’t miss this short video for our top tips you can use to research a company before your interview:

How to Research a Company Before an Interview | Job Application & Interview Tips #career #shorts
  1. Understand the Industry
    • It is very important to understand the industry or the market sector that the organisation belongs to. This will help in researching the recent news, changes, and challenges faced in the sector and where you can support the company in the role. 
  1. Read the job description
    • Understand the responsibilities you will take in the role. Jot these down alongside your own to cross-check to see how well you align with the requirements of the role. Consider the key strength and development areas to improve.
  1. Prepare examples
    • Make use of your real-life professional or personal examples that you can mention in the interview that align with the skills required for the role. Consider using multiple examples for each skill.
On the day of the interview 
  1. Arrive on time 
    • Even though it is an informal interview, ‘being on time’ always remains the topmost priority. We all know that first impressions are the last impressions, and this is also true for informal interviews. 
  1. Be yourself 
    • Since informal job interviews are more casual, it is important that you be yourself. Let your personality shine through. This will help the interviewer get a sense of who you are as a person and your work style. 
  1. Show enthusiasm
    • Even though the tone may be relaxed, it is still important that you show enthusiasm. Show that you are interested in the opportunity by making good conversation and showing interest in what the interviewer is saying. 

Good to know: your body language is likely to still be a factor in informal interviews, so ensure to demonstrate good body communication too! Check out our quick video below for 5 key body language tips:

Top 5 Job Interview Body Language Tips #shorts
  1. Talk about your skills and experience
    • Be ready to answer questions about your previous work experience and how it relates to the position you are applying for. You must be prepared with the relevant experiences and skills that match the role requirements. 
  1. Ask questions
After the interview 
  1. Thank them afterwards
    • After the interview, make sure to thank them for their time. Send them a thank-you email later  to let them know that you appreciated the opportunity and that it was a great experience for you. 
  1. Follow up
    • For an informal interview, send the recruiter a follow up email to show that you are still enthusiastic about the position after 2 or 3 working days. For the best results, follow up in the morning.  

Good to know: While informal interviews often focus on getting to know your personality and work style, the employer also wants to ensure that you have necessary skills and experience for the role and company. 

Common Informal Job Interview Questions

Every informal interview will be different and so the questions asked are likely to be different depending on the discussion. However, many recruiters will use some questions more frequently than others. 

Here are some of the most common questions that are asked in informal job interviews: 

  • ‘Tell me about yourself.’
    • When interviewers ask you this common interview question, it is important to keep it simple and clear while answering. It is suggested to take 1 to 2 minutes. To do this, we can cover our past work experiences and then move on to what we currently do and what we’d like to do and work on in this role. 

For more tips on how to answer this informal interview question, check out our short video below:

Tell Me About Yourself | How to Answer this Competency Interview Question #shorts
  • ‘What do you like about the role?’
    • It is important to read through the job roles and responsibilities before an interview. Once you do, you can jot the points that you are genuinely interested in so that you may discuss them on the day of the interview. Also, be clear and explain why you qualify to be chosen and how you plan to accomplish the tasks and responsibilities of the role. 
  • ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ 
    • When asked this question during a job interview, it’s important to show that you have a clear vision of your career path and how this position fits into your long-term goals. Be specific with examples of what to accomplish in the next five years: this could include taking on permanent, managerial, and leadership roles, developing new skills, or working on high-impact projects. 

Informal interview tip: Have a structure when answering vague questions such as ‘define yourself ’. Structure your answers using some overall themes. For example: “I am a graphic designer who does motion graphics, illustrations, and 2D and 3D renderings”. Then you can further expand on each of these areas.

  • ‘Why should we hire you?’
    • With this question, the interview aims to understand how you see yourself in the company and whether you believe you are a good fit. When answering this question, consider how you can benefit the company in the role. Check the company website and social media and bring up projects or issues that you can support with. 
  • ‘How would your friends describe you?’
    • This is another interview question that employers use to assess how you see yourself, your personality and gives them an insight into how others think of you. When answering this question, ensure to keep it job-relevant to the skills needed and aim to keep the answer simple and clear. 

For more tips on how to answer the informal job interview question “how would your friends describe you?”, check out this short video below:

How would your friends describe you? | How to Ace your Answer | Interview Question #shorts

Want to know more potential questions might come up in your interview? Complete our Question-Identifier Tool from our Practice Essentials package now and discover the potential questions that are most likely to come up in your next interview.

Now that we’ve covered some commonly used informal job interview questions, let’s think of some questions that we can ask the recruiter as well!

Questions to ask in an Informal Interview

In an informal interview, you may have more flexibility in the types of questions you can ask. If not already been covered by the recruiter, you could use some of the following questions to understand more about the company culture and the role:

  1. Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of this role? 
  2. What do you think are the most important skills and qualities for someone to succeed in this role? 
  3. How does this role fit into the larger goals of the company? 
  4. What do you like best about working at this company? 
  5. Can you describe the team I’ll be working with and their backgrounds? 
  6. How do you support the professional growth and development of your employees?
  7. What’s the company culture like here? 
  8. What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing as a company right now? 

Good to know: Remember these are just some examples – feel free to ask questions that are specific to your interests and needs, as long as they are relevant and appropriate for the conversation. 

Take your interview practice to the next level with our Video Interview Practice Tool and record your responses to common interview questions, gain feedback and boost your interview technique with practice.

Informal interview example question

After you have completed your informal interview, it is likely that you will take additional interviews as part of your interview process. Most commonly, you may be invited to take a Competency-Based Interview with a member of HR or a senior manager as the next stage.

And with that, we’ve covered all you’ll need to know about informal interviews, phew!

But before you go and ace your next interview, discover more quick answers to some of the top questions people ask about informal interviews with our FAQs below:

Informal Interview FAQs

Do I need to prepare for informal interviews?

Even though there is not a one-solution that fits all in the case of ‘informal interviews’, it is absolutely important to prepare for your informal interview, as informal interviews are still for recruitment processes. To prepare, consider how you align with the job requirements.

Where are informal interviews held?

Informal interviews can be held in coffee shops or restaurants or any casual seating area. This is mainly done to maintain a relaxed setting. An informal environment reduces stress and gives greater freedom for you to be yourself.

How can I impress in an informal interview?

To impress in an informal interview, you will need to engage with the interviewer to ensure that they like you. Keep good communication during the discussion, nod along and show interest in what they say and maintain good body language throughout.

What are the benefits of informal interviews?

  • Greater engagement
  • More relaxed environment
  • Get to know each other
  • Understand the role
  • Ask questions about the job

What is an informal interview dress code?

The dress code for an informal interview will depend on the company and the industry culture, but generally, it’s best to dress in smart business casual attire. Business casual attire typically consists of comfortable, neat, and professional clothing that is not too formal.

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