A walk-in interview is a job screening that happens without an appointment or scheduled meeting. They are common at career fairs and informal meet-and-greet sessions, and they tend to be relatively short and often consist of only a few questions. Employers may offer candidates a job at the end, but more often than not, the meetings are used as a way to quickly narrow down the applicant pool. Top candidates are often invited for a more formal interview at a later date.
The basic nature of the walk-in interview is that it is spontaneous and unplanned. In most cases, there is still a bit of structure to them, though. Many occur at job fairs, where employers have a chance to meet hundreds of interested workers at once. Interviews at these sorts of events often happen right at the employer’s booth or in a private or semi-private conference room somewhere nearby.
Companies sometimes also host walk-in interview events at their offices when there are a lot of positions to be filled at once. Announcing a mass interview day can be a good way to screen a lot of people at once without having to actually go through the formal job application and screening process. Anyone interested in working at the company is usually free to drop into events like this and be interviewed without much hassle or stress.
The ease with which these sorts of meetings happen can make them look more casual than they really are. Though most are designed to be informal, applicants are usually smart to do at least some preparation beforehand. Thinking about common questions is often a good place to start. Interviewers are likely to ask why applicants want to work at a given company, for instance, or why they think they would be good at a given job. Talking about general strengths and weaknesses is also common.
It is usually a good idea for applicants to dress formally and come prepared with a list of references and a few copies of a recent resume. Those who appear polished and professional, even in such an impromptu meeting, are usually the best positioned to make a good impression that could eventually lead to a job offer.
What happens after the interview can vary depending on the employer and what sort of job is at stake. Entry-level work that needs to be filled right away is sometimes hired for on the spot, which means that successful candidates might be offered a job as soon as the interview is complete, or else later that day or week.
It is more common for walk-in interviews to serve as initial screenings. Employers will think about who they liked the best from the initial meetings, then will invite their top candidates in for more formal question-and-answer sessions. These are usually more structured, and applicants will often have a chance to meet with other executives, tour the offices, or ask more extensive questions about the potential job and its responsibilities.
Benefits to Employers
Companies often choose to conduct walk-in interviews because of how efficient they are. Meeting candidates for brief periods of time allows recruitment officers a chance to talk to a lot of people at once, for one thing, and also cuts down on the paperwork involved in running a large-scale job search. Rather than spending the time reading through stacks of resumes, recruiters can simply meet people in a fast, face-to-face setting where they can make quick impressions about who might be a good fit.
The walk-in process also allows a company to interview multiple candidates for different departments. Recruiters can have several managers from various departments meet with candidates, which saves time and resources.
Benefits to Job Seekers
Applicants sometimes prefer walk-in interviews to more formal meetings, too. More casual meetings allow seekers to get a quick sense of a company and its philosophy without having to spend a lot of time researching it, and can give them an almost instant feel for whether a particular job would be a good fit. If so, more connections can be made; if not, new opportunities can be sought out.
Job seekers who do not take the process seriously enough can often destroy their candidacy without even realizing it. Recruiters’ first impressions are often decisive, which means that someone who comes in unprepared or who doesn’t respond well to questions might be out of the running relatively quickly. Once eliminated, it can be hard to get back into an employer’s good graces.
There also tends to be a lot of competition at walk-up events, as there are often many of candidates to choose from. This can be both good and bad for applicants, but makes it all the more important to make a favorable first impression. Standing out from the crowd can be challenging under these circumstances.
Employers also face some disadvantages. They need to make personnel available for processing paperwork and interviewing candidates, for one thing, which takes them away from their regular jobs. The company will also need to create a strict policy about which candidates to call for additional interviewing, which can create tension between recruiters who disagree.