What is an Open Job Interview?

How to Handle a Walk-In Job Interview

Applicants waiting for a job interview
••• Charday Penn / Getty Images

What is an open job interview, and why do companies use them? When companies have many positions to fill, they often hold open interviews where anyone who is interested in applying can show up to interview with the employer.

An open interview is a chance to meet with a hiring manager without having to go through a formal screening and selection process prior to being chosen for an interview. However, you may have to wait to meet with an interviewer, and there may be other candidates interviewing for the same job you are.

Learn how open job interviews work, how to prepare, what to bring, and how to ace a walk-in job interview.

What is an Open Interview?

An open job interview, also known as a walk-in 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 immediately offered a job.

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

  • A company may post a job 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.
  • Companies may interview applicants during scheduled on-site hiring events or at a career fair.

What to Wear to an Open Interview

Most open interviews are for retail, hospitality, or seasonal jobs rather than for formal corporate positions. Employers for in-demand occupations, such as health care, may also hold open interviews in order to attract applicants for available 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:

  • Contact Information
  • Work History (employers and dates of employment)
  • Education (institutions attended and graduation dates)
  • Certifications

Bring a few extra copies of your resume, if you have one, 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 relay your thanks for the interview and to connect afterward.