The 10 Commandments for Interviewing in a Café!
The 10 Commandments for Interviewing in a Café! With Easter just gone and a divine spirit in the air, I wanted to share some coffee shop interview sins I've witnessed in cafés across the world.
We may have committed these sins as interviewers, or been the victim as candidates or simply witnessed these awfully awkward scenarios as we seek to satisfy our caffeine cravings.
While many of these encounters seem innocent, after working in recruitment and having a Starbucks adjacent to our office, I feel that enough is enough and time I called out some of these terrible practices! This is not a recruitment or candidate bashing article, I seek to pull us together to fix our bad habits for the good of society.
Where possible it will always be best to interview in a private office, but when it is a necessity and you can only interview in a café, below is a list of commandments you can follow.
- This is not a marketing opportunity: Please put away your branded swag. Interviews are meant to be confidential, private meetings that candidates would prefer not to publicise. Interviewers, please stop bringing branded folders, pens, flyers etc. to these meetings. A candidate will not perform well in an interview if they are afraid of being seen by a colleague if you are set up like a jobs fair stall. Hand over these items, but be discrete and don’t leave them on the table.
- Put away the CV - in fact, don't bring it at all: Again, think confidential. A CV lying out for all the passing eyes to see is not a comfortable experience for a candidate nor is it in-line with GDPR guidelines. A good interviewer should have read the CV before, be familiar with the questions they wish to ask and should not require the CV.
- Stop shouting! Speaking of GDPR and considering today's fear of data and information leaks, we still have interviewers shouting personal details out in coffee shops. Addresses, salaries, reasons for leaving employers all being bellowed for the next tables to hear. You can discuss this information, but the barista behind the counter does not need access to that data.
- Location, Location, Location: Both parties should select somewhere that is convenient but never next door their existing employer. Candidates, avoid bumping into your colleagues and the awkwardness that follows!
- Have an alibi: Have your story straight. Try to have a plan if you do run into a colleague – this is a friend, cousin, career coach, anything! But don’t have a panic attack on the spot. Not only will this strategy make you more comfortable for the remainder of the interview, but the interviewer will also take note of your ability to perform under pressure. It's best to agree on this alibi at the beginning - treat it as a funny icebreaker!
- Drink something! A water, juice, coffee, tea, half skimmed soy semi choco mocha yadda - it doesn’t matter. Maybe this is just me, but I find this painfully awkward to meet someone for a coffee and they sit there with nothing.
- Remember your wallet! Interviewers, double check you have your wallet – the mortifying shame that will never leave you if you have to ask your candidate to pick up the bill. That will never leave you or the candidate.
- Size matters - well at lunchtime: If you are to book an interview at lunch, do not recommend a small two-seater café as you will inevitably be stuck standing or sharing a table. Don’t put yourself through this strain. Go somewhere with lots of tables and space between them, or go early (or late) in the day when it is quieter.
- Now is not the time to be a “foodie”: It is rare but if you both choose to eat, remember you are about to ask questions or try to perform in an interview. Now is not the time to try tackle a giant sticky bun that will make us look foolish at the best of times. This could be the impression you leave a potential employee/employer. As a fan of sugar-coated jam-filled doughnuts, I only know this pain too well.
- Be flexible and work together: You’re in a busy public place, some things are unavoidable when you are out of the comfort of a meeting room. For both parties, make allowances and it will be a more positive experience. Both parties in an interview want it to be a success.
I appreciate that none of the above commandments are awful sins but by following these simple guidelines, you will remove some of the awkward, cringy moments that are happening around the world on a daily basis.
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Internal TA and L&D manager