How to Prepare for a Walk-in Job Interview

FT Contributor  | 

An open job interview, or walk-in job interview, is an interview a company conducts for multiple job candidates within a certain period of time. You may find yourself at an open job interview if a company has multiple roles to fill or if you’re attending a job fair or hiring event. Walk-in job interviews can be intimidating since several other candidates are also usually waiting for their turn.

It may feel impossible to prepare for an open interview, especially if it’s conducted at a hiring event, since you don’t have much time before the process begins. However, there are ways to prepare for this job interview so you make a good impression and continue through the hiring process. Use these job interview tips specifically for open interviews to impress the hiring manager and snag the position.

How Does an Open Interview Work?

You’re participating in an open interview if the company doesn’t have a specific interview time set aside for you. For example, a company may post that they’re conducting interviews for a certain position from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday. If you attend this interview, expect to be one of several job candidates waiting to speak with a hiring manager.

When you attend a hiring event or job fair, be prepared to participate in an open interview. Hiring managers may attend these events with the intention of interviewing candidates at the event. In these situations, you may not have much privacy while the interview is conducted so it’s important to remain focused.

To attend an open interview, visit the employer during the timeframe that was posted. You’ll sign in, present your resume, and wait until you’re called back. In most cases, you’re interviewed one-on-one and if you qualify for the position, you may be informed about the next steps in the hiring process.

How to Prepare for an Open Job Interview

Whether you plan to attend an open job interview or a hiring event that may offer walk-in interviews, preparation is key. If you’re prepared and know what to expect, you’ll show your confidence and impress the interviewer.

Bring Interview Tools

Prepare for your open interview by gathering any items you think you may need. Print copies of your resume on high-quality paper to provide to your interviewer. Bring a pen or pencil and a notepad so you can write down details about the job or the next steps.

Carrying loose items may make you look unprofessional. Use a briefcase, portfolio, or purse to carry these items to your interview. Be sure your resume is kept in a safe place so it doesn’t get folded or crumpled before you hand it off.

You may also be required to complete a job application at your interview. Refresh your memory on your past employer’s information, such as dates you worked there and contact information for your prior workplaces. Review details on the open interview and if you’re requested to bring additional items, such as identification, be sure you have it with you.

Arrive Early

An open interview usually includes a block of time in which the hiring manager is conducting job interviews. If possible, arrive right when the interviews begin so you show you are prompt and professional. Depending on the turnout for the open interview, there may be several candidates the interviewer needs to spend time with.

In some cases, you’ll need to wait in line before you’re interviewed. If you arrive early, it’s more likely that you can be seen quickly and won’t need to wait as long for your interview. You could even end up at the front of the line.

Write Down Answers to Common Questions

Every interview is unique, but there are several common job interview questions you can expect to hear. Most interviewers review your resume skills section and will ask you to elaborate on your hard skills, which are the skills you learned through education and training. You may also be asked to describe your soft skills, or the personality traits and abilities you learned through past experiences.

Additional interview questions that you may encounter during your open interview include the following:

  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • Why do you want to work here?

In some cases, the interviewer may also ask you to describe past situations where you had to solve problems, display leadership capabilities, or have a difficult conversation with a coworker. Review your past professional experiences and have a few stories prepared in case you’re asked these types of questions.

At the end of the interview, you may be asked if you have any questions. Be prepared to ask questions at your job interview about the company or position. This shows you’re interested and want to learn more.

Dress Appropriately

The way you dress shows your professionalism and how seriously you take the job opportunity. If the job you’re applying for doesn’t require professional attire, such as retail or food service, dress in business casual for your interview. Men should wear slacks and a collared shirt while women should wear slacks and a professional top or a dress.

If you’re interviewing for an office job that requires professional attire, dress in a business formal outfit. Men should wear suits and women should wear slacks and a professional top with a blazer or a dress.

Be Prepared to Wait

While waiting for your turn at an open interview, it’s easy to let your nerves get the best of you. To combat your job interview nerves, go over answers to common job interview questions in your head. Remind yourself that you’re prepared for the interview and remain confident about your qualifications.

Follow Up After

The interviewer may provide you with the next steps in the hiring process at the end of the interview, such as calling to schedule a follow-up interview. Complete these steps in a timely manner so you can continue to move forward.

If you weren’t provided with the next steps, follow up with the interviewer a few days later to inquire. This shows you’re interested in the position and want to move forward to work for the company.

Open interviews usually involve several job candidates, which may make them intimidating. By preparing for your open interview and understanding how the process works, you can prove you’re qualified and move onto the next steps in the hiring process.


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