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Background I'm 21 years old, working for company A since three months. I joined company A for an internship, I'm working with them part-time and I want to stay with them at least until next September, when I'll graduate. Company A already spoke with me about the offer they'll be extending to me after September: as it's not negotiable and way below the average pay, I told them I'm not comfortable with it but I also told them I want to accept it. In reality I'm only accepting it to have more negotiation power with other companies, and I'll quit in September, or as soon as I find another offer with a better pay (the one which comes first).

Problem During my job hunting, I got the opportunity to know company B's CEO: we had a phone conversation to know each other and he expressed his interest in me; on my part I'm interested in them too: company B is smaller and younger than A, but seems to offer better career opportunities, paid training time and a fair pay. We agreed to get in touch again when I'll be done with the last university exams. Company B's CEO offered me to visit their offices so we could meet in person and I could see where they are and how do they work. I don't really know what to expect from this informal meeting, nor do I know what does him expect. I'm new in job hunting, so I have no prior experience of similar requests. How is this meeting different from an interview? What do you think I can expect and what do you think are they expecting?

Thank you, and forgive me if I made some mistakes, this is my first post and I'll progressively make edits and corrections as you point them out in comments.

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Typically, smaller companies have fewer and more light-weight processes in place; hence they often operate in more informal and less structured ways.

Approach the meeting as a 'casual' way to get a feel of the company. There is no set plan for what can or will take place, but if the chemistry is good, you might be introduced to other employees (potential co-workers), join them for lunch, perhaps sit in on a Scrum meeting or the like. If the chemistry is not there, the meeting might end after just a private chat with the CEO.

Even if everything clicks, you will probably not formally be offered a job - so it is not a do-or-die interview. First and foremost, they want to see whether you could fit in; whether you are formal or informal, ask too few or too many questions, are a driven self-starter or more hesitant and so on.

If there seems to be a match, the process will probably become more formal with an actual interview, perhaps tests and finally an offer.

Having the chance to meet a potential employer in this fashion is never bad - but realize that they may be 'sounding out' many other candidates besides you. The process might seem more casual, but can be just as rigorous as at larger corporations.

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    whether you are formal or informal, ask too few or too many questions, are a driven self-starter or more hesitant and so on. Just to save on the follow-up question: this is literally a case of "be yourself", as you can't guess their expectations - and trying to come across as a match when you aren't, will end up with you being unhappy working there. – Bilkokuya Jun 11 '18 at 9:40
  • I had once an interview in a pizzeria. We had a meal, and they jusged me like that. They decided not to hire me, I was too junior to leave for Hong Kong(from Paris), but that was the process. Some companies do things a more informal way, and it's not bad in itself. – gazzz0x2z Jun 11 '18 at 10:16
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Company B's CEO arranging just an 'informal meeting' suggests a couple of things different from your normal interview process:

  • It is likely that as well as not directly offering you a job, they may not actually have a definitive role for you to be interviewed for. This can be common for start-up companies (and indeed, some larger companies I've worked for have done this); they know what they'd want a new employee to do, but haven't ironed out the specifics or drawn up a potential contract. In short, they may not have an official vacancy that needs filling, not yet anyway.
  • I once went for a 'casual chat' with a relatively new company. As they had only been in business for less than six months, their presence in the press and the internet was minimal. By simply inviting you to the office, they are offering you the best chance to learn of what the company does, what their workplace is like and who you would be working with, all this without misleading you into thinking this is a direct lead-up to a job offer. It's as much their chance to sell the company to you as it is for you to sell yourself to the company.

This approach should not discourage you from finding out more about Company B, but it may be worthwhile keeping your eyes open for other opportunities too.

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