Land the job in style: How to prepare for your coffee shop interview

Going for an interview in a formal meeting room can come across rather intimidating and many employers are coming to terms with how uneasy it can make an interviewee. Particularly with first stage interviews, the birth of coffee shop interviews have come to light in recent years as an alternative setting for hiring managers. It helps ease the candidate into the process and helps their nerves to be controlled.

Considering the more informal setting, it begs the question of how you should actually approach the interview. What should you wear? How should you act? What’s the next step of the process?

Here are some top tips on how you should approach an informal interview at a coffee shop.

Reasons for having a coffee interview

For many hiring managers, it is suggested that hosting an informal interview in a coffee shop helps the candidate to feel more comfortable to bring out their personality. Instead of an interview, it can be seen more as a discussion about aspirations, interests and why you wish to go for the job. By organising the first stage of the interview in this way, it’s felt that a hiring manager can get a better understanding of whether you would fit the job well. Similarly, it’s an informal way for you to learn more about the company.

Research before your interview

Although this considered an informal interview, you should prepare for it the exact same way you would with a normal interview. Remember, the meeting is still an interview. Even if you’re in a more casual setting, you’re still being judged on your personality, skills and responses. 

Research the company and what it’s purpose is. Do they have any recent achievements? Who are they? What are their specialised services? Now’s your time to show the effort you’ve been putting in to get to the next stage of the interview.

What should you wear?

Considering the nature of the meeting, you might question exactly what to wear for a coffee meeting. It’s not necessary to wear complete business attire, but neither should you turn up in fitness clothing and trainers. 

Casual business wear would be an appropriate outfit but just double check the place that you’re meeting at before going ahead - it could be an extremely posh coffee shop. Be sure that your clothes looking neat and clean before attending.

Should you bring anything with you?

What would you bring to formal interview? Run through that exact same checklist and bring that with you. The typical essentials would be a notepad and pen, a business card (if you have one), a copy of your resume and references if you have them available.

Order a coffee

If you’ve found yourself turning up earlier than your interviewer, it’s up to you whether you prefer to wait or order yourself a coffee. Traditionally, the interviewer will pick up the tab considering they would have suggested the place to have the meeting.

Just stick to coffee though. You’ll be exchanging plenty of dialogue which means food may not necessarily be appropriate. It will be a distraction throughout the interview.

Keep your focus on the interview

There’s likely to be distractions during the interview considering it’s a public coffee shop. There’ll be plenty of conversations being had, potentially music playing in the background and plenty of plates & mugs clattering about. Either way, keep your focus remained on the interview and think about what you need to do to make a good impression.

Next steps

Once you’ve had the interview, remember to exchange contact information with your interviewer. It can help with growing your network and keeping in contact for any potential opportunities if it doesn’t work out.

Thank the recruiter/interviewer for their time and reiterate your interest in the position and looking forward to the next part of the process. Follow up with an email too. It helps you to keep fresh in the mind of the interviewer.

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