Coffee Chat with Your Prospective Employer

Bernard Morlet

When attending a coffee chat with a potential employer, you will need to demonstrate your interest in the firm, as well as your interest and knowledge of the industry. During the conversation, you want to give the impression that you researched the company and have a real interest in it.

If you read that the company holds particular values, is specialised in a specific practice or has worked on a particular project that interests you, you should read the most you can about it and show your knowledge about it during the coffee chat.

Similarly, you will need to read articles and publications regarding the industry you are targeting. 

By contrast, the questions that you can find answers to by just visiting the company’s website, such as “how many people work at your company?” or “in which countries is the company located?”, should be avoided. Such questions give the impression that you went to the coffee chat just to be noticed by the company and not because you have a genuine interest in it. It is also valuable to avoid questions that show you have limited knowledge about the industry you are targeting.

Don't forget that the coffee chat is not only about the company you are interested in working at, it is also about you.

When discussing a specific topic, try to show how your background matches well with the company you are considering applying to.

You will also need to be aware of your attitude during the conversation. As the conversations taking place on campus generally involve other students, try not to monopolise the conversation (nor to remain silent obviously) and include the other students in the conversation.

Recruiters are searching for team players and people they would enjoy spending time with in the office.

Aspects of your personality that you show during the coffee chat are just as important as the content of the conversation you are having.

In order to get the most out of the coffee chat, try to find information about the person you are going to meet or consult his/her LinkedIn profile. This way, you might identify useful questions you should ask and which questions you should avoid. For example, if you seek to change your career path after your MBA and if you see that the person you are going to meet has made a similar career change before, you might address this topic during the coffee chat.

How to Take the Coffee Chat to the Next Level

If you manage to give a good impression during a coffee chat, you can keep in touch with the person you had a conversation with and continue the conversation by email or by phone call. This way, you might make him/her part of your professional network. By keeping in touch, it increases the chance that your newly made contact supports your application during the recruiting process. Even if your application is unsuccessful, your contact might direct you to other opportunities in the future. 

When it comes time to an application for a role in the company, and you feel the coffee chat went well, you might mention the name of the person you had a conversation with in your cover letter and say why this conversation made you want to apply.

Getting a dream job is the main goal of a lot of students undertaking an MBA and students need to go through the recruiting process to realise their dream. The recruiting process is just the tip of the iceberg, coffee chats and other networking activities are the hidden part of the iceberg.