How to Prepare for a Job Interview in a Coffee Shop
Those of us who have been through the job hunting process know that the nearby Starbucks is more than a place to grab a coffee; it’s also where you prepare for that upcoming interview. With 30 minutes to go, you need to stand in line, place your coffee order, wait for that order, take your drink, find an empty seat, drink your coffee and, with minutes to spare, make your way over to your final destination.
As a career coach for the job hunt, I have worked with numerous clients on how to successfully ace interviews from the moment the interview is scheduled to the thank you note afterwards. I know how to maximize every step in the process, including those 30 minutes at Starbucks, so that you always feel confident and prepared. Below is a step-by-step guide that will show you how to make your pre-interview Starbucks visit your most efficient pregame stop yet.
Step 1: Walk Into Starbucks and Prioritize
At this point, you have 30 minutes to go and are likely in need of a quick review because your nerves could be getting the best of you. Pull out your cell phone, open up your notes and start planning. Chances are you already know your Starbucks order (and it shouldn’t be adventurous today to keep your tummy under control) so instead use your time to type keywords for the five things you must remember to mention during the interview. This time crunch and tiny screen space will force you to prioritize what matters most and the background jazz tunes will help get your creative juices flowing. By now, you should also have thought of questions for the hiring manager and have an idea of what the top interview questions will be for the job and how to answer them.
Step 2: Wait In Line and Review
While standing in line, use this opportunity to fill-in the blanks. You already have your five keywords, so now it’s time to figure out the professional stories that best demonstrate your top skills and experiences. Are you long-winded? Starbucks lines are usually fast so try to get down these stories to their most essential takeaways so that you can recall them during the interview. You also have your list of questions, your thoughtful response to the common prompt, “tell me about yourself,” and, if you’re really looking to stand out from the other candidates, an idea of what you’d like to accomplish your first 90 days on the job. Prioritize the information you want to convey first in case you end up being short on time
Step 3: Place Your Order and Communicate
While telling the barista your order is not quite the same as speaking with a hiring manager about your professional accomplishments and background, they both involve communication. The best strategy is to tell the barista that you are job interviewing. Yes, that’s right. Make small talk and be a little vulnerable. During the interview you feel vulnerable, so why not start the acclimation process early on? Then, see how you did. This is the time to course-correct. Rethink how you plan to communicate during your interview and practice speaking confidently while you order your coffee. Starbucks baristas are typically very engaging, so this will serve as good preparation for the interview.
Step 4: Wait For Your Order and Relax
Now that you have mentally reviewed and prioritized the most important information for the interview and visualized how you will communicate, allow your mind to relax a little and look at yourself in the mirror! Is there anything in your teeth? Is your hair in place? A quick aesthetic check-up is always a helpful confidence-builder. And you don’t want to walk into the interview looking or feeling tense or preoccupied. Rather, you want to be focused and relaxed (but not so relaxed you appear careless). Aim to strike the right balance before you reach your destination.
Step 5: Drink Your Coffee and Think Positive Thoughts
Now that you have your coffee in hand and are nearing the time of your interview, it’s time to practice your pitch. It’s impossible to ban all self-doubts that may still be lingering. Try to think positively and be confident that you are going to do well. May I suggest that you share your pitch with a barista – the one sweeping or cleaning the peripherals? The key is to practice anything you want to say with a nice person who is not judging your ability to do the job of your dreams. You’ve prepared as best as you can and are going to the interview armed with a combination of skill sets, accomplishments and personal attributes that are uniquely you.
Step 6: Head to Your Interview and Ace It
Make sure to head to your interview with minutes to spare and don’t bring your coffee or coffee breath with you. Splurge on the Starbucks gum and arrive 5-10 minutes early with enough time to use the restroom (tip: even if you don’t need to, it’s always good to do a last minute check in the restroom to ensure everything is in place and you look presentable). Before heading out, look in the mirror and smile. This simple act will give you an extra boost of confidence right before you go in.
With these steps, not only will you get to have your Starbucks coffee but you’ll be able to use your visit to your advantage. This half hour preparation has been the key to my shyest clients’ success. It helps you focus on what’s most important while getting you in the right mindset before encountering decision-makers or influencers (tip: remember that receptionists can also be part of the hiring discussions).
For more guidance on how to prepare for interviews, set up a 15-minute consultation with me. I’ll help you navigate your way to being the best candidate for the job.
Great article…I’ve planned many Starbucks visits prior to interviews to do a review and relax a bit.
Glad you enjoyed it. There are so many interviewees who stop at a coffee shop that I had to comment on the idea.