How to Handle a Walk-In Job Interview

Business people waiting for a job interview

PeopleImages / E+ / Getty Images 

What is walk-in job interview and why do companies use them? A walk-in job interview, also known as an open job interview, is an interview for employment where companies accept job applications during a range of times when all applicants who are interested in applying can attend.

The company conducts on-the-spot interviews rather than scheduling individual interview appointments with candidates.

How Do Open Job Interviews Work?

Open job interviews are one of the types of job interviews that can be the most challenging to participate in. All the applicants show up at once, and you’re going to be among a group of people who may be competing for the same job you are.

On the plus side, employers often hold walk-in interviews when they have multiple openings to fill, so you still should have a good chance of getting hired even if there are a lot of other candidates.

Interviews may be held on a one-on-one basis in an interview or meeting room. Otherwise, there may be tables set up for recruiters to chat informally with applicants. The interviews will be brief. Applicants may be asked to stay to discuss a job further with a recruiter or a second interview at a later date may be arranged. In some cases, applicants are offered a job on-the-spot.

Interviews During a Block of Time

Walk-in interviews are typically held during a block of time and are held on a first-come, first-served basis. These interviews are often held for seasonal employment or by companies looking to fill many positions at once. Companies that have an ongoing need for new employees may hold daily or weekly walk-in interviews.

Interviews at Job Fairs or Other Hiring Events

Sometimes, open interviews are used during job fairs or when a company is in the area for a short time specifically to hire. They are held to maximize the number of people screened before the next step of the interview process.

Examples of Walk-In Interviews

  • For example, a company may post a newspaper or online ad announcing that open interviews will be held from 9:00 a.m. to noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on a certain date.
  • Some stores may have window signs stating that applications will be accepted on a specific day and time. For example, open interviews may be held every Tuesday between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.

What to Wear

Most open interviews are for retail or seasonal jobs rather than for formal corporate positions. Wearing business casual attire will help you make a good impression. For summer jobs, casual attire is fine but be sure that you are dressed neatly and tidily.

What to Bring With You

Applicants may be asked to complete a job application prior to a meeting with an interviewer. Bring a list of all the information you need to complete a job application. Bring a few extra copies of your resume and a list of references, as well. A pad and pen are handy for taking notes and completing forms.

When to Arrive

Try to arrive a few minutes before the start time or as early as possible. The earlier you get there, the sooner you’ll be able to meet with an interviewer. For competitive jobs, there may be a line of applicants waiting to meet with hiring managers.

Be Prepared to Answer Questions

When you attend an open interview, be prepared to answer interview questions about your employment history and education, including questions about why you want to work for the company and why you are qualified for the job.

If the company is hiring for a variety of jobs, know which one you want to apply for. You will be asked what positions you’re interested in as part of the application process.

Be Prepared to Wait

Besides having to be considered for a job with a group of other people, waiting can be a painful part of the process. During the latter part of open interviews, there may be a wait to meet with a recruiter or the recruiter may not have enough time to meet with all the applicants.

If the hiring manager runs out of time, you may be asked to come back on another day or be contacted by phone or email to continue the process.

How to Follow Up After an Open Interview

What’s the best way to follow up with the employer? It’s important to take the time to do so because you may have only met briefly with a recruiter or hiring manager. It can be hard for them to remember all the people they met with, and reminding them of your application is always a good idea.

Try to get a business card from the people you meet with at the interview. That will give you an email address and phone number you can use to connect afterward.