Three More Reasons to Stop Holding Job Interviews In Coffee Shops

Last week I posted Three Reasons to Stop Holding Job Interviews In Coffee Shops.  The reality is, there are more than three reasons! Here are three more …

1.  More Awkward

In the first post of this series, I mentioned how awkward this situation can be.  Let’s make it more awkward.  Let’s add into the mix a job candidate who uses a cane, crutches, or a wheelchair.  Now picture that coffee shop with its multitude of stairs, narrow hallways, and tightly packed seating area.  As promised…. the situation is even more awkward.  What’s more, you have now brought the coffee shop’s accommodation issues into your business in a very real way while also placing a barrier (literal and figurative) between you and prospective employee.  While we’re on this topic – take a look today at your office area – is it fully accessible?  

2.  Lack of Confidentiality - Candidate Perspective

Was that John from accounting who just walked in?  What if it gets back to my boss that I’m taking interviews?  How will I explain this meeting?  Will I get fired? 

It’s happened.  A job candidate is meeting with a prospective employer in a public setting when a member of their current team, their boss, or someone else affiliated with the company walks in and sees them.  The candidate is now in a wildly uncomfortable position and you may have just lost a top-tier candidate to a counter-offer by their employer.  Either way, it’s a lose-lose scenario.

Beyond the risk of being recognized and having their current company find out about the interview, an interview should include a candid conversation about experiences, successes, and failures. Getting a candidate to talk openly about past failures can be a challenge in the best of scenarios – having the conversation in public where it is easily overheard makes it less likely that a candidate will be open and transparent with these stories. 

3.  Lack of Confidentiality – Company Perspective

The confidentiality issues aren’t limited to the candidate side of the equation.  You don’t know who is sitting beside you at a coffee shop.  Not only could it be someone from the candidate’s company, it could also be a competitor – and you’ve not only given them a lead on a great candidate but have likely shared information that you wouldn’t provide to a competitor if they called up and asked.

Job interviews should be candid conversations – being concerned that a competitor may be sitting at the next table does not lend itself to having an open and thoughtful conversation with the candidate.

That brings us up to six reasons to stop holding job interviews in coffee shops.  Still not convinced?  Watch this space for more reasons! 


Three More Reasons To Stop Holding interviews in coffee shops - Nora A Burns - keynote Speaker

Three More Reasons To Stop Holding interviews in coffee shops - Nora A Burns - keynote Speaker

Three Reasons To Stop Holding Job Interviews At Coffee Shops

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. 

Hiring Managers:  Please do not host job interviews at a coffee shop (unless the person is applying to work at that same coffee shop)

Hiring Managers:  Please do not host job interviews at a coffee shop (unless the person is applying to work at that same coffee shop)