How To Ace Your Open Interview (With Example Questions + Answers)

By Amanda Covaleski and Experts
Aug. 29, 2022

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So you found a job posting that looks like the perfect fit, but you’re hesitant to apply because it’s an open interview.

Although open interviews can be intimidating, they’re actually pretty simple if you understand how they work and how to prepare for one.

These are just one type of interview, and odds are that if you’ve been through any interview before you’ll easily ace an open interview. We’re going to break down open interviews and cover everything from how to prepare to what to do after the interview is over.

Key Takeaways:

  • An open interview allow hiring managers to talk to multiple candidates at once, often for multiple positions.

  • When preparing for an open interview you should research the company, know what the process is like, and refresh your resume.

  • It’s important to show up five to ten minutes early, dress appropriately, and be prepared to wait for your turn.

How To Ace Your Open Interview (With Example Questions and Answers)

What Is an Open Interview?

Open interviews, also called walk-in interviews or group interviews, allow recruiters and hiring managers to talk to multiple candidates at once, often for multiple available positions.

  • Usually, the interviews are advertised broadly and interviewees are given a range of times to show up and speak to someone at the company. Everyone who shows up is then interviewed together in a group setting, or spoken to individually.

  • This format allows hiring managers to effectively screen many candidates at once, but it’s also beneficial to you as an applicant. You’ll be able to skip right to talking to a real employee at the company and you can get feedback much sooner than in the typical hiring process.

  • Sometimes these interviews end with an offer to have a second-round interview immediately after the open interview ends, or you can expect a request for a formal follow-up interview at a later date.

  • Open interviews can also end with a job offer. Some companies use these events to scout for seasonal or temporary workers and are prepared to make offers to the top interviewees of the day. You can never be sure what you’ll get, so it’s important to show up prepared to impress the interviewer.

  • It can be intimidating to go through walk-in interviews because of their flexible and less formal nature. Going through the interview process with other people, especially people who are competing for the same position as you, can be nerve-wracking. But if you take the time to understand the format and practice, you can become an open interview master.

How to Ace an Open Interview

Now that you know what an open interview is and how to spot one, the next step is to prepare for the interview.

Though hiring managers will ask many of the same behavioral interview questions and open-ended questions that are asked in formal interviews, the format is different enough to require some extra preparation.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the process. In a group interview, the interviewer can ask specific questions for each person, or give out questions for everyone to answer. Knowing this can help you strategize about how you will answer and judge the appropriate time to jump into the conversation.

    Don’t be a copycat, but be prepared to credit others for good answers. Also, try to answer first at least some of the time to show that you’re not afraid to take initiative.

  2. Get to know the company. As with any interview, doing some background research on the company you’re interviewing with is crucial. Make sure you know what they do, who they work with, and any information you can gather about the position you’re applying for.

    Look for recent news, the company’s mission statements, how the company talks to the public via social media, and any other information you can find out about what the company values most in its employees.

  3. Learn more about the position. If you’re interested in a particular position, find out as much as you can about it. Read the job description carefully and highlight keywords that relate to your skill set. That way, you can be sure to discuss the right things during your open interview.

    If there’s no job description available, try reaching out to someone from the hiring team to find out more about it. Key details include necessary hard skills, years of experience, and any other requirements.

  4. Refresh your resume. Often with open interviews, the company will see your resume for the first time during the interview. You should make sure that it’s updated and reflects the position you’re interviewing for as well as your talking points.

    Here’s how to tailor your resume for a specific position.

  5. Prepare to answer questions. Do some interview practice by reviewing some common interview questions before you go. Though the format of open interviews is different, the questions are usually the same as formal interviews. Practice your responses to basic questions like “what are your strengths?” as well as the trickier “where else are you applying?” types.

  6. Have some questions ready. Employers always ask if you have any questions for them, and you should always have a few back up questions ready to go in case nothing comes up during your interview.

    Even if the interviewer covers everything or you’re not especially curious about the company, make sure you ask questions to show that you’re engaged and invested in the process.

  7. Follow up after the interview. You first need to ask your interviewer for their contact information at the end of your interview. Try to get a business card from them, or ask for their email, that way you can make sure you’ll be able to get in touch with them.

    Later, on the same day of the interview, send a short and sweet follow-up message. You can thank the interviewer for their time and remind them that you’re happy to answer follow-up questions. It’s also a good time to ask any questions that you either forgot to ask or thought about since the interview to show that you’re engaged and interested.

    If that email doesn’t receive a response, it’s a good idea to send another follow-up email a week later. You can check in on your application status, or just give the person a gentle reminder that you’re still waiting on a response.

Examples of Open Interviews

You can find job postings for open interviews in the same places you would find positions with formal one-on-one interviews. Usually, jobs with open interviews will state that they are looking for applicants to show up for a group interview in the job posting, so you’ll know ahead of time what the format is.

Look for specific call-outs of “walk-in interview” or “open interview”, or if the employer lists times and locations for interviews. You typically don’t have to submit a formal application for these positions. Instead, you can show up to the interview to apply.

Here’s a few telltale signs and recruiter lingo that will tell you that you’re looking at a job posting with a walk-in interview:

  • Online job postings or job boards

    Walk-in interviews at ABC Company, New York, NY — We are hiring for all positions, full-time and part-time, on Friday, October 9 from 9 am to 5 pm.

    Join our team! — We are looking for sales associates to join us full-time or part-time. To apply, please visit us in person to complete an application and an interview. Interviews are available Monday, October 11 from 11 am to 3 pm and Wednesday, October 13 from 9 am to 12 pm.

  • Newspaper ads and print job postings

    Searching for full-time help at XYZ Warehouse, Chicago, IL — Looking to fill 3 positions in our fulfillment warehouse. No experience required. To apply, please interview in-person on Monday, October 11 from 8 am to 5 pm or on Tuesday, October 12 from 3 pm to 8 pm.

    Smith Inc is hiring — we are looking for multiple full-time associates, available immediately. Please bring a resume to our Main St. location on Wednesday, October 13 between 8 am and 12 pm.

  • Store signs

    We are hiring! Interviews for full-time and part-time positions are held in-store each week on Wednesdays from 1 pm to 3 pm. Please come with a resume.

    Help wanted. Please inquire within. Interviews will be held on Friday, October 16. Come with references.

Common Open Interview Questions and Answers

Open interviews are a lot like phone screenings in that you’ll probably only touch on basic topics. The larger the hiring event, the more true this is. With that in mind, preparation is easy. Let’s cover a few of the most common interview questions.

  1. What do you know about our company?

    “I know that XYZ Inc. was founded in the late ’90s and set itself apart from other software companies by innovating into client-focused niches. It’s consistently reviewed as one of the best companies to work for, and I know that there are big projects in the works for automating data collection and visualization that I’d be delighted to be a part of.”

  2. What makes you a good fit for this position?

    “The job description states that you’re looking for someone with experience in handling CRM platforms and managing large accounts. During my time at ABC Inc., I was responsible for a dozen accounts worth between $1-5 million, and with experience in both Salesforce and Trello, I’d have no problem fitting into your existing processes. Additionally, I spend my Saturdays contributing to various mutual aid programs, and I know that XYZ also has a commitment to serving the community.”

  3. Will you be available for the entire season?

    “Yes, I will be living in San Jose for the summer and beyond, and I live about 10 minutes from your Main St. location. If the opportunity is there, I’d like to stay on even longer.”

  4. Tell me about yourself.

    “I graduated from UVA in 2019 and have been working as a data analyst for IBM for the past 2 years. I’ve recently completed my Google Analytics certification and I’m looking to break into a marketing analyst position to leverage my talent for data visualization and strategy implementation.”

  5. Why do you want to work for this company?

    “I want to work for this company because I see this an an opportunity to contribute to an exciting and forward-thinking company. I feel as if my skills are suited for what you are looking for in this position.”

Other Common Open Interview Questions

  • How are you feeling about this interview?

  • Tell me about yourself that isn’t on your resume?

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • What part of your resume are you most proud?

  • What about our company’s mission that resonates with you?

  • Why should I hire you?

  • Why did you leave your previous job?

  • What makes you unique?

  • What are your career goals?

  • What led you to apply for this position?

  • What interests you most about this position?

  • What motivates you?

Tips For Open Interviews

  • Dress for success. Dress like you would for a typical first-round one-on-one interview. Business casual usually works for open interviews, but when you research the company, try to see what kind of culture they have. If they’re in a professional industry like finance, you should air on the side of dressing more formally.

    For other jobs in retail or tech start-ups, you may be able to get away with a smart casual look. If you don’t come across any clues about the company culture as you research, it’s better to dress more formally so the employer knows you take the opportunity seriously.

  • Arrive early. If your schedule allows, show up as early as five to 10 minutes early. Open interviews could get crowded so if you arrive early, you have a better chance of beating the crowds and impressing a recruiter early.

    Otherwise, you run the risk of waiting around and not being able to have an interview before the session ends.

  • Know that you’ll probably have to wait. Open interviews can be great since you can get immediate results, like a second-round interview offer or even a job offer.

    The downside of this is that with more people applying at once, you might have to wait around. Just know that you could spend more time at a walk-in interview than you would at a formal one-on-one interview or on a phone interview.

  • Practice speaking in front of other people. Since open interviews can be done with other candidates and interviewers, getting comfortable with speaking in a group is a good idea.

    You can practice speaking up in group conversations or being the first person to respond to an interviewer’s question. Being able to jump into the conversation at the right time will set you apart as an interviewee.

Common Open Interview Mistakes

Avoid these open interview mistakes to make the best impression possible:

  • Not being prepared. You may think open interviews sound informal, but things are unlikely to go well if you show up dressed unprofessionally without any copies of your resume ready. And if you don’t have writing materials handy, you won’t be able to take down notes about what you learn during the interview process.

  • Showing up late. Never turn up near the end of the open interview window, unless it’s really the only time you can make it. At this stage, the hiring managers are usually worn out and may have even made some decisions about what candidates are going through to the next round.

  • Being impolite to other candidates. You’re going to be in a room with other candidates during an open interview, and how you interact with these people is almost as important as how you interact with the recruiters. Coming across as hyper-competitive or standoffish can make you look like you won’t get along well with others.

How to Ace Your Open Interview FAQ

  1. Do open interviews hire on the spot?

    Yes, some open interviews hire on the spot. If you’re wondering if going to an open interview will get you hired on the spot, that depends on the company and you. Some companies are more than happy to hire people on the day of their interviews.

    Other companies prefer to take the information they receive on their interview day or days and review it to select only the best applicants.

    That said, if you are very experienced in the position you’re applying for, there’s a good chance you will be offered the position on that day.

    When an applicant stands out from the crowd and is so much better than the others, many companies will want to snap them up and not risk losing them. If you fall into this category, you can expect to be given a job offer.

    If you really need an answer to this question, the best approach is to ask when you show up at the open interview.

  2. Are open interviews easy?

    Yes, open interviews can be very easy. Open interviews are easy if you’re confident and feel comfortable with interviews. Open interviews are not easy if all interviews make you anxious and nervous.

    Many people prefer an open interview because then they can size up the competition. It can be nerve-wracking to see these people, but for many, knowing is worse than not knowing.

    If your open interview is a group interview and you’re all interviewed simultaneously, that can be very easy because you don’t have to answer every question, and it’s not so intense as a one-on-one interview.

    Try to answer at least one question so you make an impression on the hiring managers or the interviewer.

    While some open interviews are group interviews, others are still one-on-one interviews, but they go through people very quickly. You’ll probably spend a lot more time waiting for your turn than you will being interviewed.

    In these situations, the waiting can be difficult and give you anxiety, but the interview itself will be fast and usually fairly easy, especially if you’ve had a few job interviews in the past.

  3. Should I go to an open interview?

    Yes, you should go to an open interview. Going to at least one open interview in your life is a great learning experience, and it can make you more confident about job interviews in the future. Even if you decide you don’t want the job, it never hurts to gain experience. You can always turn down a job offer.

    If you’ve gone to open interviews in the past and found that they were not something that appeals to you, then it’s a good idea to skip them the next time one comes along.

    Many open interviews are for part-time work or seasonal jobs. It’s most efficient for the company to bring in many people and hire a lot all at once so they can be trained together and then sent out to work.

    One thing to be wary about is open interviews that appear to be hiring everyone on the spot. Sometimes these interviews are not really for a job at all; they’re trying to recruit people to sign up for a program.

    They will not pay you but request money from you for training. If you suspect this is happening, then it’s best to avoid this type of open interview altogether.

    What is the best way to determine if you should go to an open interview? You should research the company. Look for online reviews, company information on websites like Glassdoor, study the company’s website, and you could even give them a call to see what you can glean from talking to someone in the company.

  4. How do you start an open interview?

    You start an open interview by following the instructions they give you. Luckily, how you start an open interview doesn’t have much to do with you.

    The employer will set the stage and schedule the time to be there, they may tell you to bring certain information, like a resume and samples of some work or references, and all you have to do is show up.

    Of course, you can do some preparation to make your open interview more successful. These tips can help:

    • Researching the company is a great first step

    • Reread the job posting to see exactly what they want

    • Create a list of questions you have about the position

    • Update your resume to be accurate

    • Collect a list of references and have their information on hand

    • Practice interviewing with a friend or family member so it feels more natural

    • Research interview questions and pre-plan some of your answers

    • Dress nicely and be well-groomed at the interview

    • Bring any supplemental information you might need

    Once you’re in the open interview, you will be led through the process, so you won’t have to worry too much about what’s happening. If you have questions, go ahead and ask them. Most companies have a person or two who are at open interviews just to answer questions and tell people what to do.

  5. What should I bring with me?

    You always need to bring a few printed copies of your resume with you to an open interview, but sometimes employers will ask you to bring specific materials in the job posting.

    Look for requests for things like a completed application, an official identification, or proof of certifications. It’s also a good idea to come with a list of references, just in case a recruiter asks for it. To really impress the interviewers, keep all your papers in a folder or another formal, professional organizer.

  6. How long do open interviews take?

    Every open interview is different, but on average, open interviews take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

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Author

Amanda Covaleski

Amanda is a writer with experience in various industries, including travel, real estate, and career advice. After taking on internships and entry-level jobs, she is familiar with the job search process and landing that crucial first job. Included in her experience is work at an employer/intern matching startup where she marketed an intern database to employers and supported college interns looking for work experience.

Expert

Denise Bitler, CPRW, CDBW, MRW

Denise Bitler has 30+ years of HR experience working in various industries and with all level of employees from hourly through C-suite, as well as company Board Members.She is the founder of Resume-Interview Success, LLC and is an expert in best practices related to resume, cover letter, and Executive bio writing, LinkedIn Profile optimization, job search strategies, and interview coaching.

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