Consult Recruitment NZ > Business  > What The Heck Is A Coffee Interview?

What The Heck Is A Coffee Interview?

If you’re searching for the next role right now – chances are, you are being invited for an initial coffee interview (CI).  CI’s are proving a popular addition to the recruitment process and while someone somewhere will be coming up with stats to prove it – anecdotally we are seeing that having a CI incorporated into the process results in a better outcome for all.   

Yeah, but what is a CI?

A coffee interview is a more informal meeting between a candidate and a potential employer.  Generally, no longer than half an hour long (though in our experience sometimes both parties have a great yabber and spend a long time in them!) – they are normally held at a local cafe (offsite from the company).  It’s the dating version of a quick drink before you commit to a dinner date!

What’s the point of a CI?  Is it just another meeting and a waste of time?

Nope.  We are big supporters of CI’s (and that’s not just because of our coffee guzzling tendencies!!).  This is why they are great:

For a jobseeker:

  • Because the CI is offsite, it levels the playing field.  We think this is a good thing because it’s a two-way selection process and for the jobseeker it is a little less intimidating first up.
  • You don’t get as nervous as in a formal interview.  Because of the more relaxed nature of the meeting, it’s easier to connect with the interviewer and for the jobseeker to let their personality shine.
  • You don’t need to prepare as much (!).  We wouldn’t recommend not preparing for the meeting – but given the context is more around meet and greet, it means you don’t need to spend hours pouring over their website for the first meeting.
  • It’s an easier forum to ask questions that matter.  Because it is a bit less formal, you can ask questions that can be more freely answered like:  “what made you choose to join XX?”; “how would you describe the environment in the office and the culture in general?”, “who doesn’t suit your organisation?”.

For an interviewer:

  • You get to save time!  In a few hours, you can meet a shortlist and be able to move forward to the serious stuff.  This is super important because you are probably (i) busy and (ii) not wanting to miss out on top talent (and they are going quickly right now!).
  • A CI speaks to job seekers.  It lets them know that you actually care about who they are as a person and that your organisation isn’t solely focused on bums on seats (unlike others).  Top talent have choices (lots of choices right now) and your interviewing methodology says a lot about an organisation.  
  • You get to pinpoint the best people quickly.  We’ve all been there – seen a resume which looks outstanding and then met the person in real life and within 10 seconds have known that they would never work out.  A CI means that you can get through that meeting quickly (plus there is coffee, so always a silver lining right?!).
  • You’ve got a bit more flexibility to pace when needed.  We had a client last week who met an excellent candidate in a CI – so much so that they ended up organising a more formal interview the next day (lucky for them or they would have missed out on the candidate!).
  • The other great thing about an offsite meeting is that it helps to maintain confidentiality more easily.  There’s nothing worse than your entire team stopping to gawk at the poor person who has come in for an interview – so offsite is good!  (Just don’t go to the cafe that everyone hangs out in!).

We’ve also had great success hosting clients at our offices where they can set aside the day and have their interviews here – we keep the coffee coming (and a few sneaky treats!), and we can move the process through quickly because the interview feedback and next steps are completed on a timely basis.

If you’re looking to hire in the next while – it’s worth incorporating coffee interviews into your process.  If you need a hand to get started or want to find out more – get in touch with us, better still – let’s grab a coffee to discuss!

About the author

Angela Cameron - CA, CPA

Executive Director

A chartered accountant by qualification, she is a recruitment leader by nature.

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    Rob McPate

    June 24, 2021 at 4:39 pm

    This is very true but what I have always used them for regardless of if it’s sales or a technical role is “team fit” will this candidate fit my team? Getting that wrong can set the whole business back!

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      Consult Recruitment

      June 25, 2021 at 2:51 pm

      Hi Rob! We couldn’t agree more. There are so many reasons why we think coffee interviews are great! And definitely with the more relaxed nature of a coffee interview, you can quickly analyse team fit as you mentioned! Feel free to reach out to one of the Sales & Marketing team if you have any questions at all about your recruitment processes. Cheers, Consult!!

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