Does “chat” mean interview? What should I wear?

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Moonranch
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08 Jul 2013, 4:30 pm

I decided to apply for a voluntary office role with a charity that offers counselling because I want to gain some admin experience while I’m unemployed. I had to fill in an application form and provide references so it was a fairly formal process. I have now been invited in for a “chat” about it on Wednesday but I’m unsure whether I should be treating this like an interview and what I should wear.

I don’t understand what people mean when they say “chat” as I recently applied for an internship, was invited in for a “chat” but it actually turned out to be a pretty intense interview. I didn’t get the position and was totally unprepared for the interview because I thought it would be informal seeing as the woman said it was a chat, not an interview!

I doubt this will be as formal as the internship “chat” as it’s not the same kind of thing but I will prepare some answers to likely questions, just in case. However, I’m completely stuck on what to wear! I don’t want to dress up for a formal interview if it really is just a chat, but then again I don’t want to be underdressed either. I’m so confused and would love to get people’s opinions. How would you approach this? Has anyone faced something similar?

Thank you for reading!



charlottez
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08 Jul 2013, 4:41 pm

Prepare for it as if it were a formal interview, but dress the way you would if you already worked there (maybe a little nicer).



benh72
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08 Jul 2013, 6:14 pm

Probably best to dress as the staff do, or a little more formal, but certainly not less formal.
Smart casual is the term that comes to mind; that's usually dress pants, collared shirt leather shoes, and no tie, though you can always wear a tie and remove it later.
I wouldn't worry about a suit, that's a bit too formal for a charity organisation, unless it's a management role.

Remember it's a voluntary position and they want you to help them; possibly need you more than you need them, so the power dynamic is not the same as it would be for paid employment.
In essence if you're going for a "chat" or interview at an organisation where you will be volunteering, it's about seeing that you are the right fit for what they're looking for, and you doing likewise.
They are seeing if you will fit in with an existing team, not just seeing if you have the skills to do the job.

Remember also, there are always some sort of internal politics in play in organisations, whether they are government, private, or even voluntary. You may get interviewed, feel fine but not gain a position, this may be about fitting in with the social dynamic rather than not having what they're looking for. Voluntary organisations are not as rigorous when it comes to avoiding discrimination or whatever when hiring, so even if things don't work out at least you've given it a try.
If you are really keen and fail you can always try somewhere else - you won't get black listed for failing an interview, or not gaining a voluntary position (or paid position for that matter).

I realise the above could be a bit negative so the other thing to remember is that if you are willing to volunteer, it means you want to be valuable to your community and give something back.
If it all goes well you will get good experience, develop some skills and will find yourself in a position later - after doing the volunteer work - of having skills and experiences you can bring with you to a future employer, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.
Employers like to see people value productivity and social values, and the fact you are willing to volunteer shows you have a social conscience and a determination to go good for others - that's never a bad thing.



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08 Jul 2013, 8:00 pm

benh72 wrote:
Probably best to dress as the staff do, or a little more formal, but certainly not less formal.
Smart casual is the term that comes to mind; that's usually dress pants, collared shirt leather shoes, and no tie, though you can always wear a tie and remove it later.
I wouldn't worry about a suit, that's a bit too formal for a charity organisation, unless it's a management role.

Remember it's a voluntary position and they want you to help them; possibly need you more than you need them, so the power dynamic is not the same as it would be for paid employment.
In essence if you're going for a "chat" or interview at an organisation where you will be volunteering, it's about seeing that you are the right fit for what they're looking for, and you doing likewise.
They are seeing if you will fit in with an existing team, not just seeing if you have the skills to do the job.

Remember also, there are always some sort of internal politics in play in organisations, whether they are government, private, or even voluntary. You may get interviewed, feel fine but not gain a position, this may be about fitting in with the social dynamic rather than not having what they're looking for. Voluntary organisations are not as rigorous when it comes to avoiding discrimination or whatever when hiring, so even if things don't work out at least you've given it a try.
If you are really keen and fail you can always try somewhere else - you won't get black listed for failing an interview, or not gaining a voluntary position (or paid position for that matter).

I realise the above could be a bit negative so the other thing to remember is that if you are willing to volunteer, it means you want to be valuable to your community and give something back.
If it all goes well you will get good experience, develop some skills and will find yourself in a position later - after doing the volunteer work - of having skills and experiences you can bring with you to a future employer, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.
Employers like to see people value productivity and social values, and the fact you are willing to volunteer shows you have a social conscience and a determination to go good for others - that's never a bad thing.

    This Power Dynamic is a very good point. Knowing that should let you relax a lot. (I hope)


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managertina
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08 Jul 2013, 8:05 pm

Dress it up!

Research them, and get to know how your skills and experiences match theirs. I agree on having some answers ready.

The more you practice, the better you get.

Above all, relax. Remember, you clearly have something they want!



Stargazer43
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08 Jul 2013, 8:46 pm

Everything you do in life is an interview. From an outside perspective, I'd probably recommend business casual. They probably won't ask you the typical interview questions (aka, what are your strengths, describe a time when...., etc), but they may ask you a few such as why do you want to work here, what your interests are, or why should we hire you over someone else.



Moonranch
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09 Jul 2013, 11:50 am

Thanks so much to everyone who responded. Unfortunately I don't know what the staff and other volunteers wear so I can't use that to help me.

I appreciate all the help!



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21 Jul 2013, 4:42 pm

Moonranch wrote:
I decided to apply for a voluntary office role with a charity that offers counselling because I want to gain some admin experience while I’m unemployed. I had to fill in an application form and provide references so it was a fairly formal process. I have now been invited in for a “chat” about it on Wednesday but I’m unsure whether I should be treating this like an interview and what I should wear.
Thank you for reading!


It's definately an interview and even if it's not you should treat it as such because it looks professional. Wear your best formal stuff. The thing is these days they pretend to be very informal on the phone in order to try to trip you up into a mistake.There are a lot of tactics like this now as interviewers use very hard core methods these days. Be aware of other tactics like this, stay focused and on topic, don't be bothered by idle chit chat and remember anyone at the company who talks to you may be asked about you later by the person who interviewed you - every team member is a potential interviewer. Good luck and remember to be professional even if others seem relaxed and informal. If it turns out to actually be an induction then OK you can go with that, but an admin or office role is a more demanding role than say folding clothes in a charity shop, so yes I think interview.



Moonranch
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22 Jul 2013, 9:04 am

savvyidentity wrote:
It's definately an interview and even if it's not you should treat it as such because it looks professional. Wear your best formal stuff. The thing is these days they pretend to be very informal on the phone in order to try to trip you up into a mistake.There are a lot of tactics like this now as interviewers use very hard core methods these days. Be aware of other tactics like this, stay focused and on topic, don't be bothered by idle chit chat and remember anyone at the company who talks to you may be asked about you later by the person who interviewed you - every team member is a potential interviewer. Good luck and remember to be professional even if others seem relaxed and informal. If it turns out to actually be an induction then OK you can go with that, but an admin or office role is a more demanding role than say folding clothes in a charity shop, so yes I think interview.


Thank you. I appreciate your helpful advice even though I've had the "chat" now. It actually was an induction but I was glad I'd dressed for an interview as it made me look professional, and they had a smart wear thing going on in the office, so I didn't look out of place. I will remember your advice to be aware of tactics like this, especially as I got caught out for the internship I mentioned in my first post. I think it is very unfair of employers to do things like that!

In the end I shadowed another volunteer and decided the role wasn't for me. It just made me too anxious and I couldn't cope. :oops: :cry: They have said I am welcome to come back though, if I change my mind.


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savvyidentity
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25 Jul 2013, 5:19 am

Moonranch wrote:
savvyidentity wrote:
It's definately an interview and even if it's not you should treat it as such because it looks professional. Wear your best formal stuff. The thing is these days they pretend to be very informal on the phone in order to try to trip you up into a mistake.There are a lot of tactics like this now as interviewers use very hard core methods these days. Be aware of other tactics like this, stay focused and on topic, don't be bothered by idle chit chat and remember anyone at the company who talks to you may be asked about you later by the person who interviewed you - every team member is a potential interviewer. Good luck and remember to be professional even if others seem relaxed and informal. If it turns out to actually be an induction then OK you can go with that, but an admin or office role is a more demanding role than say folding clothes in a charity shop, so yes I think interview.


Thank you. I appreciate your helpful advice even though I've had the "chat" now. It actually was an induction but I was glad I'd dressed for an interview as it made me look professional, and they had a smart wear thing going on in the office, so I didn't look out of place. I will remember your advice to be aware of tactics like this, especially as I got caught out for the internship I mentioned in my first post. I think it is very unfair of employers to do things like that!

In the end I shadowed another volunteer and decided the role wasn't for me. It just made me too anxious and I couldn't cope. :oops: :cry: They have said I am welcome to come back though, if I change my mind.


You're welcome.

I think people need more rights for job interviews to stop things like that. Good luck with it all



glow
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25 Jul 2013, 6:29 am

If its what I think it is, then no it isn't an interview. More likely the co-ordinator has offered to invite you in for a litte 'informal chat' and nothing more.
Of course by all means dress up and show him/her what you're made of, but as far as trying out for anything like counselling I would say a certificate or the like would be your best bet.
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WrongWay
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27 Jul 2013, 4:27 am

I've had 'chats', also known as 'informal interviews' - prepare like it's a formal interview (but don't worry too much about it) and it's generally correct to wear smart casual (not as formal as in a formal interview).


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