‘Informal enquiries may be made to…’

A high proportion of job adverts contain the phrase ‘informal enquiries may be made to…’, but what does this mean and what should you do?


Firstly, don’t ignore it– a lot of people will ignore it, so this can be something which will make you stand out before you even send off your application!

 Here are a few more reasons why you should make an informal enquiry:

  • It is an excellent way to show your enthusiasm and interest in the role, organisation and sector.
  • It can be an important part of the application process (for example, NHS lab jobs would expect you to have arranged a lab visit before applying).
  • Assessment of your suitability for a post begins from the first time you make contact with an organisation. Making an informal enquiry allows you to open up a dialogue with the organisation before the formal assessment process – and to make a good first impression!
  • Informal enquiries can also provide good interview material when it comes to explaining why you are interested in the post. Having made an enquiry and discussed key aspects of the post, you are in a better position to describe what it is that attracts you and to demonstrate that you are keen.

 However, it is easier said than done, and deciding what to ask can be a challenge so have a good think about this. Here are some suggestions:

 General questions about the vacancy, these would be good openers to get the conversation started:

 If not mentioned in the job description you could ask about the start date and the length of tenure if not a permanent role.

  • Ask why the vacancy has arisen, is the role a new post, or is it an established position? This may lead to further questions, such as, if new, why has the post been created? Is it to grow an existing team, or to fulfil a new objective? Or is it due to restructure?

You can then dive deeper and try and find out more about what the organisation are looking for, which may help you if you get through to an interview:

  • If there’s anything you’ve not sure of on the job description ask them to expand / give more detail.
  • Explain you’ve read the advert but want to know more, such as what is the main focus of the role? Or what would make an application stand out?
  • You could use it as an opportunity to find out more about the work (how would you describe a typical day/week in this role?), and culture of the organisation (what do you like best about working there?)
  • If you feel it is appropriate, do some horizon scanning too, such as asking what the biggest challenging facing the organisation is likely to be in the next 5 years?

 You could also use it as an opportunity to talk about your suitability for the role:

  • Briefly discuss your experience and whether it matches the profile they are looking for.
  • It also gives you a chance to informally discuss any area that you feel may be lacking from your experience – do you have something transferable that will fill this gap? Or might it be possible to train in that area once in post?

 Things to remember:

  • It’s not a ‘You interviewing Them’ situation. Engage in conversation and get a discussion going.
  • Be professional, sound interested and end the conversation positively.
  • It is always good to have a few questions prepared for the end of a job interview too, so these would also be relevant!

 Good luck!


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