Etiquette Tips for an Unorthodox Coffee House Job Interview

July 29, 2017 Nicole Slaughter-Graham Uncategorized

Most of the time, your interview will happen in a hiring manager’s office or at a conference table.  Every now and then, though, you’ll have a hiring manager ask you to meet them for coffee.  In fact, these types of meetings are becoming more popular in today’s business world.

In these situations, etiquette changes a bit. You’re now dealing with possible drink issues and a crowded area. The ambiance changes completely, and this can sometimes throw you off.

Here are some tips to get you through the coffee shop job interview:

What to wear

Coffee meetings are generally a little less formal, but you still want to look your best. Choose something slightly more casual than the suit you’d have worn to the office, but stick to general business casual office standards. Coffee job interviews are meant to be more relaxed and comfortable, which promotes more open and responsive conversation.

What to do if you arrive first

If you get to your destination before the interviewer, you can wait outside the coffee shop for them. You don’t want to wait in your car, because then it might look like you’re late or arriving right on time, and to some hiring managers, that can be a red flag. Likewise, waiting inside can be confusing if the coffee shop is crowded.

What to do if your potential employer offers to buy you coffee

Your first instinct might be to decline out of good taste, but let’s be honest: you’re in a coffee shop. Politely accepting is completely normal and expected. Your interviewer isn’t offering as some sort of test. They realize they’ve asked to interview you in a place that you’d normally come to for a beverage or the like.

When it comes to food, though, you might want to decline. Trying to navigate answering questions while taking strategic bites of your salad or pastry can make the interview process difficult. It involves more thinking than you want to have to put into eating and can take away from your ability to put your best foot forward.

What to bring

You still want to treat this job interview as you would in a traditional office setting. Prepare yourself with copies of your resume and references, and bring a notepad or tablet for note taking. This is still an interview even though the setting is much more casual so you want to be as prepared as possible.

You still want to be as prepared as you would for a traditional office interview. Do your research, figure out what questions you want to ask, and be prepared to answer your interviewer’s questions as well. The less formal setting of a coffee shop can make for a more comfortable and open conversation, but keep in mind that putting your best self forward and remaining professional is key to success in any job interview situation.

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