Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Never Bring Coffee On An Interview

I know that many of you will think I am nuts after reading this post. But bringing coffee on an interview is a no-no. There could be a small chance of turning off the person who is meeting you.

It is one of those pet peeves. We all have them - your nice neighbor who leaves their kid’s tricycle in the middle of the hallway for you to trip over or the cab driver who is talking on his cell phone, and you think he is talking to you or, as one executive told me, the person who sends you an email thank you note and uses email abbreviations like u instead of you. These things shouldn’t bother you, but they do. Well, that is the way I feel about bringing coffee on an interview.

People bring coffee or soda into my office almost every day. In New York, Chicago and most other major cities, Starbucks and other coffee vendors, are so ubiquitous that buying coffee in the morning is a given. It is so automatic that we don’t even remember that it is in our hand as we go up on the elevator as we go to work. And when we go on interviews we think nothing of bringing coffee with us.

But it is wrong. And I am not the only one to think so.

Years ago, the recruiter at one of the major agencies agreed to see a candidate of mine at 8:15am. The candidate was an excellent prospect for the agency and the account she was interviewing for. When the interview was over, my client called me and told me she wasn’t passing my candidate on because she brought coffee on the interview, despite the fact that she liked the candidate. The HR manager thought she was rude for bringing it.  If the candidate had brought an extra cup for the interviewer or had called to offer to bring coffee, it would have been ok, but she didn’t. The corporate recruiter told me that about half the people who came to see her first thing in the morning brought their own coffee and she was tired of it.
I feel the same way.

I wouldn’t bring coffee or soda to your house. Please don’t bring it to mine. Few of us would go to someone’s home to visit carrying a cup of coffee or a soda. We might if we called first, but going to an office is somehow different. A coffee cup or soda can has become so much a part of work “attire” that we don’t think twice about it. If you are on an interview, drink your coffee or soda before you go, simple as that. It doesn’t matter if it is a recruiter like me or a corporate human resources person or a senior executive. Or even a client.

I once took my staff to make a sales call on a client agency. When we arrived the client offered us fresh brewed bean coffee and commented (without my prompting) that he hated it when people came to see him and brought soda or coffee with them.

Am I being petty? Maybe. But if bringing coffee has a five or ten percent chance of turning someone off, why take that risk? You are supposed to be on your best behavior for an interview or a sales call – nothing should be taken for granted. If only a small percentage of the people interviewing you would be offended, why risk blowing a good job over those odds?

Besides, I always offer all my guests great fresh brewed espresso or coffee.

If you are going on an interview and they don’t offer you something to drink, suck it up for half an hour and have some when you leave.

What do you think?

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