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5 Ways to Nail an Off-Site Job Interview

5 Ways to Nail an Off-Site Job Interview
Credit: Peter Bernik/Shutterstock

Job interviews don't always take place in an office.

In fact, many interviews occur in restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, airports, golf courses and even parks, according to a study by the staffing firm OfficeTeam.

Hiring managers often hold interviews outside the office due to scheduling conflicts or so they can get to know candidates in a more casual setting, said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam.

"Even if a meeting takes place in a nontraditional setting, job seekers should prepare as they would for a regular interview and maintain their professionalism throughout the discussion," Hosking said in a statement.

To help job seekers succeed at an off-site job interview, OfficeTeam offers several tips:

  • Do your homework: Take some time to do some added prep work for interviews in nontraditional settings. Get the directions and parking information for where the interview is being held and look up the person you're meeting with on LinkedIn so you can spot him or her in a crowd.
  • Dress appropriately: Even though the interview may be taking place in a coffee shop or a park doesn't mean you should dress casually. Unless you're told otherwise, wear office-appropriate attire to the interview.
  • Be attentive: If the meeting is in a public place, it's easy to get distracted by the people around you. Be sure to keep your attention on the interviewer the entire time.
  • Table manners: If your interview is taking place over a meal, don't order anything messy or difficult to eat. This will allow you to focus more on the discussion. In addition, don't order the most expensive item on the menu since the interviewer will likely be picking up the bill. You would also do well by not ordering an alcoholic beverage.
  • Say thanks: In some instances, time and access to materials, like your résumé, may be limited. In order to leave a positive impression, be sure to send a thank-you by the next day. Use this as an opportunity to follow up on your discussion and provide any additional information you didn't get to cover.

While many off-site locations are perfectly acceptable for an interview, others may leave job seekers with an uneasy feeling. Hosking advises those preparing for an interview in a nontraditional setting to trust their gut if the location doesn't seem appropriate.

"Although workers should be flexible about interview locations, they shouldn't ignore their instincts if a meeting venue seems out of line," Hosking said. "It could be a red flag that the opportunity isn't a good fit."

The research was based on surveys of 600 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees in the United States and Canada.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.