Nescafe And Chill
TLDR: Buy the coffee and ask meaningful questions.
You’ve asked a potential candidate out to coffee. They’ve said yes.
Shit. Now you actually have to human. Don’t worry, it’s pretty easy once you know what you’re doing. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. First impressions count
Cliche, but please just be yourself. Don’t wear a suit if you normally rock up to work in Birkenstocks. Don’t try to talk in a serious tone if you’re usually the office clown. You want to put forward the most genuine version of yourself so they feel comfortable to do the same.
2. Come prepared
Do a little research beforehand. Whether it’s LinkedIn or their Github, do a little digging about the person you are about to have coffee with that way you have some talking points ready to go. Try to find something that you have in common with them and utilize that to get to know them in the first ten minutes. You don’t want to jump into serious chats straight away, rather you want to genuinely get to know them (and for them to know you!) considering they may be a future employee.
3. Buy the coffee
Take the lead and ask the potential candidate, what coffee do you drink? Order it and pay for it. That way there is no fluffing around at the counter and minimizes the opportunity for awkward silences. Their time also costs $$ too so that $5 is far better spent on showing your appreciating for them meeting you than staying in your wallet.
4. Close quickly
Once you have made a sufficient effort to get to know them and you find a natural lull in the conversation, you can subtly divert the conversation into the business side of things by saying “well, I just wanted to thank you again for your time, as you know we’re doing interesting things at (company)”.
You don’t want to immediately offer them the role, rather just explain what is going on in your organisation and what you’re looking for. Then close by asking them if that is something they would potentially be interested in.
5. Time check
Time is money. People typically have a tight schedule, so make sure you stay on top of things.
If you’re approaching your scheduled 30 minutes, politely flag that “I’m just wary of time, I don’t want to get in the way of your day in case you have other commitments”. If the conversation is going well, they may even say they can spare an extra 15 minutes!
6. Be thankful
My favourite coffee chat was with a dear friend of mine from high school who I hadn’t seen in years. We ended up chatting for over an hour about my career and my inspirations in life. She made notes, was engaging, and had specific questions she wanted to ask. After, she said thank you – and meant it. That sincerity has always stuck with me.
7. Ask for a referral
Same friend as above asked the best question to close out our coffee chat – “who do you know that I should have coffee with next?” My mind raced, and I gave her a few guys who I found to be incredible business men with a true passion for their craft. She wasn’t asking to see my rolodex, she had a purpose for why she wanted to meet another person for coffee and I felt comfortable setting her up.
Most of all – be confident, be you, and always meet new people. Who knows what will come out of a quick cup-of-Joe!