2020-12-17T14:40:09-05:00Nov 26, 2018|

How to build your network: The coffee interview

by Nerissa Fernandes

After deep-diving into understanding networking better and getting a grasp on how to build a network successfully, let’s explore the basics of coffee interviews.

“Coffee interviews” or “informational interviews” are a very popular concept in Canada. It makes most newcomers nervous as they’re not used to it. But with a little bit of knowledge and some confidence, you’ll be able to excel at these informal coffee meetings!

What is a coffee interview?

Before getting into what is a ‘coffee interview’, it’s best to be clear about what it is NOT – A coffee or informational interview is not an opportunity to ask for a job neither is it an actual job interview. It is just a meeting to get to know more about a specific organization or industry/sector or share generic information about an organization’s processes.

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What does the entire process of coffee interview look like?

  1. Research and have a list of companies handy that you would like to target for a job.
  2. Look up relevant people from those organizations on LinkedIn and send them a note asking to meet for coffee. Do not send your resume with these invites.
  3. To get comfortable with the area and the travel time, visit the meeting place in advance.
  4. Prepare and research well on conversation topics; have engaging questions ready to ask. Also, research on the person you’re meeting and his/her organization.
  5. The interview – Be presentable with your attire, not necessarily dressed in a suit or formal wear. Don’t forget to wear a smile, a positive attitude, and have an open mind. Make small talk – topics related to the weather, current news, sports, entertainment, asking about their day, common interests, etc. work best. Respect the interviewee’s schedule and adhere to the time duration proposed.
  6. At the end of the interview, express your gratitude and you may also offer to return the favour.
  7. Nurture the connection; stay in touch, follow-up, and send a thank you note.

Helpful tips and resources for a coffee interview

  • Sample templates to ask for coffee/informational interview – Link 1, Link 2, Link 3
  • Use your elevator pitch for a quick introduction
  • Keep the conversation focused and well-directed
  • Some conversation starters – Link 1, Link 2, Link 3
  • Carry a notepad and pen to take notes
  • Be an active listener and pick up on potential follow-up action items for yourself
  • Sample questions to ask during the coffee meet – Link 1, Link 2, Link 3
  • Sample templates for thank you notes – Link 1, Link 2, Link 3

In conclusion…

There are a few key points to remember as action items to be executed after a networking event or a coffee interview.

  • Connect with them on LinkedIn (if you haven’t already). Don’t forget to add a note reminding them of where you met.
  • Send a ‘thank you’ note and express your gratitude.

As you continue to build your professional network, know that networking is a two-way street. If you’re open to helping others, chances are, you will always find someone out there willing to help you!

Team Arrive would be glad to help you prepare and make the most from professional networking.

Happy networking!

About the Author:

Nerissa is a business research and management consulting professional with over a decade of experience working with clients in IT, Telecom, Retail, Banking/Finance, Retail, Pharmaceuticals, and Healthcare across global geographies. In her current role at Arrive, she works as a content specialist leveraging her first-hand experience as a newcomer in Canada to write relevant blogs and assist other immigrants to ease their transition into the Canadian life.