An informal interview is a casual conversation between a hiring manager and an interested job candidate that doesn't fit the typical structure of a formal job interview. Hiring managers conduct informal interviews for various reasons, including to perform an initial screening of an applicant, to gauge an applicant's interest in an undefined job and to see if a possible match exists before a formal job is created.
The settings of informal interviews vary. Sometimes, the manager and candidate meet for coffee or a casual lunch. The candidate may also come to the manager's office for the meeting. Part of the premise is that the meeting is less stressful and structured than a traditional interview.
In some cases, a hiring manager may offer a job to a candidate after the informal interview. In other cases, the informal interview may lead to a more structured interview or an agreement to stay in touch. There may also be no further contact about a position.
The low-key approach and non-committal nature of the informal interview is a benefit to the company. The job candidate should typically approach the informal meeting in the same way as a formal interview. Making a positive impression by researching the company and demonstrating compelling qualities improves the potential for a job offer.