We have all been there, the confirmation call comes through and the recruiter wants to meet you for a first interview in an informal setting at the nearest café. You are excited but then a flurry of questions and concerns flood your mind and you find yourself getting very nervous and unsure. Questions like: Where shall we meet that is confidential? How will I find a suitable time? Who will pay for the coffee? Should I take my cv along? Just to mention a few. We recognize that the most important thing is for you to focus on being your best with minimal distractions. We have pulled together a few FAQ’s and Answers that will help you prepare for your Café interview.
How serious should I take a café interview?
Don’t be fooled by the fact that you are meeting in a Café just because it is an informal setting. These are serious professional sessions and the interviewer has already prepared their key questions. So you will need to be ready with answers mainly on your current role and career expectations.
Where shall we meet?
You are typically tempted to go to your favourite coffee shop, however feel free to select a place that works for you that is quiet and confidential. Choices could be a hotel lobby or the recruiters offices.
Where do we sit?
Seems like a small point but it can make a big difference. Choose a corner or spot that is private allowing you to hear each other clearly. Seats to avoid: near the entrance, coffee machine or bathrooms.
Who pays the bill?
As the recruiter has called you, they will typically host the session. The principle is that they will pay the bill. Respect this gesture and keep to reasonably priced beverages.
What shall I order?
Select a standard drink. Don’t waste time choosing your drink. Keep it simple water, coffee, juice. Avoid milk based drinks as they may give you a milk moustache 😊
Should I take a hard or soft copy of my CV?
The recruiter will normally have a copy of your cv and will have read it, so there should be no need to bring it out either on your phone/iPad or hard copy. However, to be on the safe side and maintain professionalism take along a hard copy. If there is a risk of being seen by a colleague, then avoid carrying your cv completely.
What if a question comes up that is very private and confidential?
Do not feel obliged to respond to a question that may be linked to private and confidential information. In such a case let the recruiter know you can send this response on email or text message later.
What happens if a friend bumps into me and starts chatting?
This does happen. Keep your friend conversation brief and tell them you will connect later. Explain that it is a formal meeting. Apologize to your recruiter and carry on.
How much small talk do I engage in?
It is tempting to imagine that this is an informal conversation because of the setting and spend a lot of time on small talk. It is not. Keep your small talk to less than 5 mins. Interviews in a café are usually not very long and must be efficiently carried out.
Finally, how do I close the coffee /drinks off?
Mainly take your cues from the recruiter, however rule of thumb would normally be 30 mins to 1 hour. Politely close off the conversation by thanking them for the beverages and time and agree on next steps.