Don’t be surprised if a recruiter proposes an interview in a public place. He has his reasons (spaces in the company not available, confidentiality of hiring in relation to existing employees or just a desire to make the best use of his time), but you now have new apprehensions: a place to evaluate, what to wear, how to behave… Use your common sense, and recruitment should proceed normally.
Checking out the place, finding the recruiter
Of course, you want this interview and this job, but you are nonetheless not going to accept just any old place. In other words, beware of a hotel room or a bar, but you can accept without difficulty a meeting in a café, a restaurant, a public garden, an airport lounge, a train station, a hotel bar. Don’t hesitate to ask for details about the place where the recruiter is supposed to meet you (what table number in a restaurant, in front of which shops in a train station…?). You could also decide to arrive somewhat early and choose your location taking into account the noise, passers-by… If the recruiter has a photo of you, he is expected to make the first steps; otherwise, ask him how you will identify him to avoid accosting all the suit-and-tied people in the place. Finally, considering the unusual setting of this interview, it is quite likely it will be shorter than usual, so ask the recruiter how much time he thinks will be necessary to allow for this exercise. It would be too bad to keep your best shots for the end… which doesn’t happen.
Assessment of your know-how
What a benefit for the recruiter, who will be able to assess not only your skills and experience, but also different elements of your personality that cannot be detected in a meeting room: your ability to concentrate – always maintain visual contact with the recruiter – despite noise and indiscreet ears; your professionalism – dress as for a conventional interview and sit straight on the couch or bench… – even if the setting invites relaxation; your relational ease at restarting the conversation if your counterpart is struggling with a piece of meat; your friendliness with the server; your decision-making ability when choosing the drink or menu. On this point, don’t make a faux pas: accept when the recruiter offers a drink – of coffee, tea, water… but never alcohol even if he yields to it; choose an easily eaten dish (to avoid splashing or stains) and certainly not the most expensive; remember to take small bites so you can answer him in a reasonable time – remember not to speak with your mouth full. When the interview has ended, it’s not the time to let down your guard: if you ate anything, remember to wipe your hands well on your serviette – the handshake to come requires it – and put it back on the table, not in a ball… but slightly folded. Finally, if the recruiter wants to pay the bill, accept politely – after refusing – but under no circumstances should the roles be reversed; at worst, each pays their own bill.
An interview in a public place doesn’t need to stress you more nor turn you into an amateur. Now that you know the pitfalls to avoid and tips to follow, think about being well prepared for the fundamentals of a conventional interview.