Coffee interviews are a way for employers to even the playing field for potential hires. An office can be intimidating, and employers want to know the real you.
Yet a coffee interview is still an interview and perhaps the most intimidating stage of any job application process. It’s best to treat these like a normal interview with different rules and be aware of those rules before agreeing to meet at your local coffee brewery.
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Do some research
Before you arrive at the interview, make sure to do some research on the organization. By knowing what they look for in an ideal candidate, who their target demographic is, and the company history, you can be ready to engage the interviewer with meaningful questions and conversation. You should know a little about the competition and the company’s unique selling proposition to highlight your interest in the industry.
Make sure you know the place you are going ahead of time. Account for traffic and triple-check the time, even if it means reconfirming a day or two before the meeting. It also doesn’t hurt to ask how you should recognize the person you are meant to meet. You don’t want to wander around the cafe asking random people if they are here for an interview.
A great way to not be late is to come early, but there are some things you should avoid.
Try not to order your beverage before the interviewer arrives. Make yourself apparent before the interviewer arrives. Wait outside or pick a table near the door.
Bring your CV
Showing that you are prepared is a key aspect of any job interview, and you can show your preparedness by having a good resume or CV on hand. It can give you something to reference during the interview, and can give your interviewer something to review after the interview. It can certainly help keep your name on their mind.
Prepare answers & questions
Questions during a coffee interview are formatted to be informal, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare to answer them. Common interview questions include “what projects are you currently working on?” and “why are you leaving your current position?” Questions are about starting conversations, so answer honestly, but interestingly.
Interviews can feel like a one-way street, but you should prepare questions of your own. Unlike traditional interviews, a coffee interview allows you to ask your own questions at any time provided; it doesn’t disrupt the flow of the conversation. Focus your questions on the work environment, the company itself, or the team you would be working in.
Coffee interviews are more casual than office interviews, but unless the company dress code allows for it, you shouldn’t show up in a t-shirt and flip-flops. Stick to business casual and prepare yourself in advance.
Remember: a coffee interview is still an interview
Coffee interviews are not formal, but they are still interviews. Don’t focus on the order, or the food, but on the interviewer, the conversation, and the questions. Silence your phone, stay professional, and keep the conversation on work-related topics. You’re meeting the interviewer in a friendly environment, but they are not your friend. They are here to do a job, and you are here to get one.
Coffee interviews are more common than ever, and while they offer a lot of freedom over the traditional office interview, in many ways they should be treated the same. Dress for success, and prepare as much as you can before heading out to the cafe. With these tips, you’ll be looking at an acceptance letter before you know it.
Mariam Simmons is a fashion enthusiast and Content Manager at Alpine Swiss. She loves traveling to the world’s top stylish destinations and gets inspired to create helpful fashion and lifestyle guides. With over a decade of writing experience, her main goal in creating content is to ensure readers learn something useful and provide value instead of noise.