Ace your coffee interview with these simple steps…

So you’ve finally got to grips with the modern job hunt. Your online presence is optimised, you’ve mastered online networking and now you have a ‘coffee interview’. But what exactly are you to expect from a coffee interview?

Having an informal meeting with a recruiter is nothing new, but rather than going to their office, it seems that the initial meeting has shifted to a cafe setting. With this move comes serious etiquette questions, that quite frankly, are a minefield.

Let’s go through some of the coffee interview pinch points to make sure you ace your first face-to-face meeting.

First things first, this interview is informal, not relaxed. Don’t get fooled into underestimating the expectations of the interviewer. Make sure you arrive as prepared as you would for any other interview.

If you are not sure what to bring, just ask. It’s ok to find out if they want to see anything in particular or if they need you to bring anything specific along with you, like references or your portfolio.

The first meeting is usually to suss out your suitability for the job and to go over your expectations from the job. You should expect to be asked practical questions about your job so be ready to answer them. List out your skills and experiences and relate them to the job posting.

Also consider getting some prior knowledge of the challenges and the competitors the company is facing – it helps to be able to speak freely about the company and the interviewer will be more convinced that you are the right person for the job.

As with all interviews, arrive at the meeting place a few minutes early. Once you’ve met, let the interviewer lead the way in ordering. They’ll usually offer you a coffee, but don’t go to wacky with your order – keep it simple. Although you are here to have a discussion about the position, you  are creating an impression from the moment the interviewer sees you and they will pick up on your interactions with others, so no obnoxious behaviour!

By the time your meeting is coming to an end you should have drummed up a good rapport between you and the interviewer. So don’t screw it up at the last-minute. Usually the recruiter will pick up the tab, but do make sure you have some cash and think about leaving a tip as you leave. Talking about leaving – make sure you actually leave. You might feel tempted to hang around and get another coffee or a bite to eat, but don’t. Get up, shake hands and walk away!

It’s always a good idea to follow-up any interview with a courtesy email, thanking the interviewer for meeting you. An email is fine in this scenario. Just layout your interest in the role and you could ask when you might hear anything back in regards to further interviews.


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