When you’re busy scouring the depths of job search boards looking for your dream job or making small talk at another networking event in hopes of bumping into an organizational decision maker, you might say to yourself (maybe even out loud-oops), “there must be a better way to find opportunities.”
Luckily enough, scheduling a one-on-one informal interview may be your saving grace. Chances are, you’ve worked hard at building a professional network, whether you’re a highly-skilled recent grad starting your career or experienced professional looking to pivot positions. So why not schedule a coffee chat to qualify whether a position or company is a good fit for you?
What is a coffee chat?
In short, a coffee chat is a type of informal interview that allows participants to have an active and relaxed conversation with an experienced professional, often one who works at a company or in a position of interest. From learning about their work to discussing your own career goals, these types of informal discussions create space for your professional growth while discovering key information about the job opportunities you’re looking for.
Although coffee chats are informal in nature, it’s important to not overlook their value. Take the opportunity to position yourself for success by fitting in the right coffee chat questions, such as:
“What does a typical day look like at your company/in your position?”
If you’re looking into a new position or want to know more about a specific company’s culture, make sure to ask how a professional spends their workday. This doesn’t have to be a minute-by-minute recap, but learning about their core responsibilities can help you ascertain if a position or company is the right fit for your skills, interests, and expertise.
“What internal decisions to you typically contribute to?”
A note on this question: it’s direct, so try to ask it only when you’re comfortable with the professional and know they’re able to answer specifics about their position.
If you do decide to move forward and ask this coffee chat question, their answer may help you determine the types of responsibilities they have, the challenges they face, and perhaps, who key decision makers are (and who you may be connected with for a formal interview in the near future).
“What are the main hiring criteria for your organization?”
If you’re looking for an opportunity to streamline your application process, this is it. When you’re aware of some of the hiring criteria important to the organization-or perhaps even specific departments-you can use any answers to optimize your resume, clean up your cover letter, and check that your experiences line up with the skills the company is looking for.
To help generate role-specific information, you can ask your coffee chat partner if they know which values are highly sought after in the role you’re interested in, such as loyalty, reliability, or having a growth-mindset.
“What do you love about your job?”
Out of all the questions you can ask, this one might provide the most valuable insights. Of course, answers vary from person to person, but knowing why a person loves what they do may indicate whether a position or company culture aligns with the professional values you hold near and dear.
The art of a coffee chat is an invaluable networking skill. Like any skill, it can be learned, and even mastered. Remember, the person you’re chatting with is probably just as busy as you are, so keep these discussions short and sweet. If there’s an opportunity you’d like to move forward on, be sure to send a follow-up note thanking them for their time and solidify your connection.
Looking to master your next coffee chat? Wiseful is here to help you take control of your career search with a personalized approach to finding high-value connections. Learn more at www.bewiseful.com today.