Guide: How to Succeed at a Hiring Event or Open Interview
What is an open interview?
An open interview is a group hiring event where employers accept job applications and conduct on-site interviews in group and individual formats. These events are a unique opportunity to meet employers face to face. They may also lead to job offers on the spot, significantly cutting down the waiting time in your job search.
Success at a hiring event or open interview is about preparing beforehand, arriving on time, looking your best, and leaving the hiring staff with a great impression. This 10-step guide will help you prepare for success at your next hiring event.
Read the event description
Within the description of a hiring event, employers will leave important clues about what to expect. For example, employers may indicate if they plan to make offers on the spot or if they will interview candidates and contact you about a hiring decision later.
They may also include job requirements, such as necessary certifications, physical requirements of the job, or other details that will help you determine if it’s the right fit for you. They may also let you know what you need to bring and wear to the interview.
Research the company
Hiring events and open interviews are designed for employers to meet many candidates at once. Researching the company before the interview will help you stand out from the crowd.
Find the employer’s company page and read about what it’s like to work there from current and former employees. If the company has a retail or dining location, you may want to visit before the event to get an understanding of the day-to-day operations. Check out their social media profiles and visit the company website.
Update your resume
Review your resume to make sure it’s relevant to the jobs being offered at the hiring event. One way to do this is to reflect on your past work experience while you read the event description. Consider how the job requirements match with your qualifications. Make changes to your resume that will make it easy for this specific employer to see you have the required skillset. Read these articles for tips and inspiration on how to update your resume:
In the event description, the employer may indicate if there’s a dress code. If there isn’t any instruction on what to wear, your research of the company may help you understand what’s appropriate to the culture.
For any situation, dress in a neat and tidy manner. In many cases, opting for dark jeans, slacks or a skirt paired with a button down shirt, polo shirt or blouse may be a good combination.
Practice your answers
Interviews at a hiring event may be shorter than traditional interviews. Practice a short summary of yourself (one minute or less) to share with potential employers so that you can quickly give them an idea of what you have to offer. Review the following articles for examples of interview questions you may be asked (and questions you can ask your interviewers):
Review interview etiquette
You want to present the best version of yourself to any potential employer. As soon as you step out of your home on the morning of the hiring event, take care to be polite to everyone you encounter. Be kind to those you meet on public transportation, in the parking lot or in an elevator: these people may well be your potential interviewers or future colleagues.
At the event venue, treat everyone with respect, including anyone who appears to be facilitating the event and assisting with sign in. These people may be asked for feedback on your behavior before a hiring decision is mad
Be prepared to wait
One common piece of feedback about hiring events and open interviews is that there can be some waiting. As the name indicates, these events are open to many people at once, and this means you may need to wait your turn to be interviewed. Typically, candidates are interviewed on a first come, first served basis.
To help employers get an accurate count of attendees, you should RSVP ahead of time if you can. Try to arrive a little early or as close to the event start time as possible. Note that employers may not be able to meet with everyone in the available timeframe. In this case, they may ask you to return on another day.
Knowing that there may be a wait, come prepared with something to do in that time, such as a book or magazine. Some hiring events may offer food and drink, but you may want to bring your own, just in case. Remember: you want to be in a good mood when you do meet with a potential employer. Bring the things that will help you stay calm, comfortable and energized in the run-up to that meeting.
Don’t expect much privacy
Another aspect of an open interview is that you may not be interviewed in a private room or cubicle. Sometimes interviews are conducted in a group setting, with several job candidates being asked and answering questions together. Other times, you might meet with a recruiter one on one but in an open room with other activities taking place.
Some attendees of hiring events see this as a positive. It may allow for a more laid back and engaging conversation than a traditional interview. If you’re interviewing for a job that takes place in fast-paced environment, this interview setting can demonstrate your ability to focus and connect with others in a bustling workplace.
Bring your resume
Bring at least five printed copies of your resume and a list of references. In some cases, employers may ask you to bring specific certifications to the hiring event. They may also want to see a form of state or federal identification.
Double check the event description for these details. Pro-tip: Carry all your things in a folder or professional portfolio so you can stay neat and organized throughout the event.
Follow up after the event
As you’re finishing up your conversations, ask recruiters at the hiring event for their business cards. After the event, send them a follow-up email. It’s a simple, polite way to thank them for their time—and it may help you stand out in their memory from the many candidates they’ve met. For email examples to use in your follow-up note, review the following: