It's inevitable ... if I sit at a coffee shop (especially in a metropolitan area) for more than an hour on a weekday between 8 am and 5 pm I will witness a job interview. There is one happening two tables away as I write this.
I'm not talking about interviews for barista, or coffee shop manager, but for an administrative assistant, operations manager, software tech, office manager, etc. There are a plethora of reasons I ask hiring managers to please stop holding job interviews at coffee shops, here are three.
(1) It's awkward.
The job candidate doesn't know you and doesn't know what you look like other than having (hopefully) reviewed your LinkedIN profile. (And let's accept that at least 50% of people are unidentifiable in person based on their professional headshot with perfect hair, lighting, and perhaps a few re-touches!) It is painful to witness and more painful to experience as the job candidate walks up to one person after another "Bob?.....No? Sorry, I'm looking for someone I have never met". Periodically someone will joke, "Tinder date?". Awkward.
(2) It causes unnecessary stress.
The candidate is likely already under stress. The Job Interview Anxiety Survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest Colleges found that "92% of U.S. adults fear something about job interviews". Adding unnecessary stressors including fear of not recognizing the interviewer, not being able to find a table at a busy coffee shop, not being able to hear clearly over all the background noise (see #3), etc is not conducive to interviewing goals.
(3) It's loud.
Most busy coffee shops have a fair amount of noise. Coffee beans being ground, espresso machine steaming, barista calling out names for drink order pickup, gathering of five or more people for a book club, dog on the patio barking, etc. "What?" and "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that"...or worse, the smile and nod because someone has grown tired of asking someone to repeat themselves - these are not helpful in an interview setting. The candidate deserves 100% of your attention, and with all the background noise that is going to be a difficult goal to attain.
Coffee shops are not your best choice for an interview setting...they are not even in the top five. If you don't have a private conference room or office with a closing door that you can use, consider utilizing one of the many cooperative workspace options available in most cities. Let's leave coffee shop interviews the domain of coffee shop owners and managers.
Check back next week for three more reasons to stop hosting job interviews at coffee shops.