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Coffee Interview: Tips for Job Candidates

by
Mariam Simmons

There are different types of job interviews, and each company adopts what works best for its culture, from traditional formal interviews to informal contemporary ones. Nowadays, hiring managers are heading towards more stress-free interviews conducted over a cup of coffee.

The interview is often the most intimidating stage of applying for a job, but coffee interviews follow a less rigid approach compared to structured ones. They are more like a friendly meeting which reduces anxiety and enables candidates to feel more comfortable and confident. Nevertheless, it is still an interview and needs well-advised preparation to ace it.

Here are some tips to consider when preparing for a coffee interview:

Do Some Research About the Recruiting Company

Doing your homework will set you apart from other candidates with the same qualifications. Conduct thorough research about the recruiting company, visit their website and social media, read articles, and watch YouTube videos.

Educating yourself about the company’s products or services will help you determine how relevant your expertise is to the job position and if you will be a valuable asset to their pursuit. Moreover, research the interviewer’s career history and background if possible.

Double Check All the Details

A coffee interview can be misleading, so ensure all the details are precise. As you are going to interview a stranger in a café, the last thing you need to do is wander around asking people if they are the interviewer.

Therefore, ask how you would recognize the person you’re going to meet. Also, double-check the interview location, date, and time to avoid getting lost at the last minute and missing the interview while looking for the right café.

Come Earlier

Timing is essential in an interview; you don’t want to rush into the interview sweating and stressed, and there is no excuse. Instead, arriving on time and a little early will give the impression of your punctuality and control.

To avoid being late, set up multiple alarms, double the estimated traffic delay you may encounter, and get there 15 minutes earlier at least. Also, prepare everything, such as documents and outfits, and don’t wait until the last minute to prepare them. However, the best practice in a coffee interview when you arrive earlier is to take a table near the café door, so they easily recognize you.

Bring Your CV

Today, almost all job applications are online, so don’t assume the interviewer will have a printed copy of your resume no matter how many times you sent it. It will come in handy to get your resume updated and bring a printed copy to the interview along with your portfolio and business card if you have one. This will show how much you’re prepared and save some embarrassment on the interviewer’s part if they don’t remember the type of work in your portfolio.

Prepare Answers to Possible Questions

The coffee interview is informal. However, it’s an interview, and questions will be asked. While it’s hard to predict all the questions, anticipate what may be asked and plan some answers. Questions are most likely informal, but your answers will give a glimpse of who you are. The usual questions will be asked about your skills, strength points, personality, and behavioral situations, such as:

  1. Tell me about yourself
  2. Why do you want to work here?
  3. What were your most notable accomplishments?
  4. How are they relevant to the job you’re applying for?

So, preparing an elevator pitch describing yourself, what you want, and what you do will be helpful.

Prepare Detailed Questions

The usual closure for any interview is when the interviewer asks if you have a question. Ask questions to prove that you’ve done enough research about the company. The interviewer will analyze your personality from those questions, especially during a coffee interview, as it’s considered friendly to a limit with its conversational nature.

It can be more helpful if you can ask questions during the conversation without waiting until the end of the interview. However, don’t interrupt the interviewer and choose the right time for your questions.

The answers you’ll get will help determine if the job is good for you, so make it worth it. Ask about the working hours, environment, code of conduct, office size, or company teams. However, it’s better to write the list of questions the day before the interview and prepare them in advance. Following are some examples:

1. What are the performances KPI in the company? And how are they measured?
2. Are there additional working hours? And will extra work be charged?
3. What is the promotion policy in the company?

Wear Business Casual

The first impression is critical in the interview and getting dressed appropriately definitely helps. Your outfit will tell the interviewer that you mean business at first glance. Although for regular office interviews dressing formally according to the company dress code is preferable, in a coffee interview business casual outfit is a good choice since the café is casual.

In general, your appearance must be neat and clean. As for women, light makeup with minimum accessories will do the trick. Regarding the outfit, a skirt below the knee, pants not too long, not too short, and a blazer or shirt for the top with no bright colors will be suitable for this type of interview. Also, footwear such as dress shoes will be proper.

The dress code for men includes long-sleeve shirts with or without a blazer and classic leather shoes. Moreover, accessories are essential as well, so don’t underestimate them. A high-quality men’s wallet matching other accessories like the watch and belt will add a touch of professionalism and says a lot about you. Hiring managers notice those small details like how your leather wallet matches your belt or how your watch, belt, shoe, and leather wallet are all of the same color range.

Conclusion

Although a coffee interview is a lighter and more informal version of a traditional one, it’s still an essential part of the interview process. First impression matters! So be professional, and prepare in advance. Regarding what comes after the interview, no matter how things go, try to follow up with the recruiter and send an email showing how thankful you are for the opportunity.

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