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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 can be 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.
Open interviews, also called walk-in interviews or group interviews, allow recruiters 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 companies 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. Sometimes 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 sometimes 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.
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 9am to 5pm.
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 11am to 3pm and Wednesday, October 13 from 9am to 12pm.
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 8am to 5pm or on Tuesday, October 12 from 3pm to 8pm.
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 8am and 12pm.
We are hiring! Interviews for full-time and part-time positions are held in-store each week on Wednesdays from 1pm to 3pm. Please come with a resume.
Help wanted. Please inquire within. Interviews will be held on Friday, October 16. Come with references.
Now that you know what an open interview is and how to spot one, the next step is to prepare for the interview.
Though interviewers will ask many of the same behavioral questions and open-ended questions that are asked in formal interviews, the format is different so it requires some extra preparation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Since walk-in interviews are different from traditional interviews, it can be hard to decide what to wear and what to bring with you.
Here’s a few of the most asked questions about group interviews and our best tips to help you get off on the right foot during an open interview.
When should I arrive? If your schedule allows, show up as early as possible. 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.
What should I wear? 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.
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.
It’s important to follow up with an interviewer after a walk-in interview, both to thank the company for the interview opportunity and to ask about the status of your application.
To follow up, 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 you should 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.
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