I applied for a job and they have invited me to their place for a discussion. They informed me there will be a technical discussion and a small project that I will have to do which is part of the assessment. They advised me the dress code is smart casual so I don't have to wear a shirt and tie.

I am preparing for this invitation as if it is an interview so I was wondering whether they could they mean it IS an interview. Or is there something else I should know about.

It is a small company.

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    It is an assessment of your technical skills as a part of the interview process. – paparazzo Jul 6 '15 at 14:27
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    They will evaluate you, that's all that matters, whether they call it technical interview or not doesn't matter. It's part of the process. – Formagella Jul 6 '15 at 14:28
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    "They advised me the dress code is smart casual" - huh? "Smart casual"? What is that?! Couldn't they just say to come casual ... they seem like hipsters to me! – Jack Twain Jul 6 '15 at 15:16
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    @JackTwain (Note, I am describing male clothing here) Casual-Casual is jeans, t-shirt and trainers/sneakers... Smart-Casual is usually no-jeans or shorts, presentable shirt/polo shirt, no tie, footwear somewhere between sneakers and formal work footwear... – Marv Mills Jul 6 '15 at 15:30
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    @PavelPetrman They may simply have got fed up with people either showing up in suits, or calling to ask what the dress code is, that they decided to explicitly say that interview suits are not required. – DJClayworth Jul 15 '15 at 21:45

From your point of view there is no difference between an interview and a discussion.

Some companies, somewhat commendably, want to de-stress candidates who might be intimidated by the idea of an "interview", which implies a one-sided process in which you are being evaluated on a pass-fail basis. Therefore they frame their recruitment procedure as a 'discussion', in which you have a two-sided conversation in which you and they both decide whether you are suited for working there.

Unfortunately the bare fact is that the results for you are the same in each case. If the results of the 'discussion' is that they don't think you are suited to work at the company, you will not be invited to any more 'discussions' or offered a job.

(It's also true that you should be evaluating the company just as much as they are evaluating you, whether the process is called 'interview' or 'discussion').

You are completely correct to prepare for this in exactly the same way as an interview. There may be a slightly different tone to the 'discussions' than an interview - but then interviews can vary from the formal and stressful to informal and relaxed.

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  • thanks for your answer, confident, good communicator etc, that's what I am thinking. It's interesting from what Formagella mentions in regards to evaluation. I have seen various posts from Google results when it comes to assessing technical projects, assuming it will be technical. – Person Jul 6 '15 at 15:11
  • I'm not sure I like your characterization in the second paragraph.There are always two sides to every contract and either party can reject other's terms.Your bare fact statement seems to obviate the fact that if parties to negotiation dont form an evaluation of reciprocal inequality in the other party's consideration to their own benefit,there can be no contract.Ergo, if the "company" doesnt see a "supplier"s revenue product is commensurate with the consideration required to add that revenue product,the company must pass on the opportunity to form this contract; it's fundamental economics. – K. Alan Bates Jul 6 '15 at 17:48
  • As a matter of courtesy, I would make sure during this 'discussion' not to insist on calling it an interview though - for a business professional who is trying to frame this meeting as a discussion, they would most likely be offended if you try to 'correct' them. – Zibbobz Jul 6 '15 at 19:08

The final five words of your question define what is going on here. In my view this is more than an interview, you are being invited to their company so they have the opportunity to see whether you will 'fit' in their organisation. And from a small business perspective, potential negative repercussions abound if they get this wrong. This is more pertinent in a small organisation where interpersonal dynamics hold greater potential of influencing group, departmental and organisational behaviours and outcomes.

Best outcome for these guys is to find someone who can do the job well in a professional and competent manner and whose personality, attitudes and behaviours are aligned with their individual/group and organisational ethos/ideology/game plan. Get it right, you will all be happy, get it wrong and the negative repercussions could be dire and go way beyond the individual. I am happy to provide links to research by organisational psych’s and others who study the complexities of the interaction between individuals and organisational structures/entities.

With respect to interview -v- discussion etc. although I agree in principle with much of what DJClayworth says above, my take on it is a tad different. I hope this provides an alternate way of looking at the situation.

The interview process generally involves a dynamic in which information sought and obtained is unidirectional and controlled by the more influential individual or group. This is set up so that they can engage in a well-informed and structured decision making process. The dominant features of this process are the rationality and objectivity, which underpin the elements of such an interactions. Seems they got that stuff sorted from your Application and CV.

In the moment they invited you to have a discussion with them the power differential shifted. The dynamic involved in conversing successfully requires that all parties actively listen and hear the view expressed by the other and respond in a considered and hopefully insightful manner. This is a process in which you will have to engage if you get the job. It is a process that relies on a natural connection and ability to communicate with relative ease whilst respecting the different individual roles and responsibilities in the organisation. This is not something that can be up-skilled later on, it's not about the individual its about what happens when a group of like minded people get together to work on a project and how that evolves.

Do you see the difference?? Do you understand why these people may want to 'get' who you are, what your underlying moral characteristics and behaviours are like and whether they can imagine working closely with you on various projects over a long per8od of time. You might also like to consider these things as you are chatting with them. In your mind, appraise whether they as individuals and their company ethos fits with you and how you want your work life to evolve. Remember, we spend more time at work and we attribute much of our sense of wellbeing to our successes (or not) in our professional life. Many define who they are by linking their sense of self to their occupation.

I hope the above makes some sense to you and that it provides some clarity for you - even if it comes from an 'out there' perspective. Good luck!

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Well, if you don't pass the interview, then you don't get the job. How do you think you will come across as a prospective employee if you are not on the ball during the discussion? They probably want to know how you think and especially if you can think on your feet, how you react and they probably want to have some idea whether you are going to be an effective collaborator and member of the team. No pressure.

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