Coffee chats are one of the best ways to stand out during the on-campus recruiting process. Your ability to connect one on one with an employee at your dream company is a great way to earn kudos with your target employer. However, many other aspects of the recruiting process are covered in great detail elsewhere, but for some reason coffee chats don’t get the same level of attention.
One could even argue with the very personal nature of a one on one coffee chat that it is one of the most important touch points in the entire recruiting process.
Follow these 5 tips below to ensure you make the most of your coffee chats:
This sounds really simple but slots for on-campus coffee chats go quickly. Each company is different so make sure you are on all the relevant club lists and in target company databases so you don’t miss your chance to participate. Popular career tracks like marketing or consulting are particularly competitive when it comes to time slots for coffee chats. Typically there are multiple opportunities to sign-up per company, so you should be able to secure at least one time slot, but don’t risk it, make sure you are taking note of any event held by your target firms.
Once you have your coffee chat scheduled, it’s time to prep for it. Typically you will know who you will be chatting with so take the opportunity to conduct some career related research via LinkedIn or the company website. Time for these coffee chats is typically limited so it is important to have a game plan before your coffee chat. Identify some questions that will help you get a better picture of the firm, learn about the firm representative’s experience with the company, and ultimately position yourself for success during the interview process.
Now that you are prepared for the chat, it’s time to engage and execute your game plan. You want to treat this conversation professionally while letting your personality flourish within the semi-structured conversation. Remember this is about connecting with a potential decision maker or future employee, so it’s not enough to just ask a bunch of questions. You want to be engaging here.
Completing the coffee chat does not end the process, it is important to document the conversation you just had. With many companies there will be multiple representatives from a firm you chat with throughout the recruiting process, so by documenting all of your interactions it makes it easy to reference past conversations and employee names.
Finally, following-up and confirming interest should be another one of those immediate next steps candidates take post coffee chat. These employees typically talk to many students on-campus so follow-up soon after the conversation and remind them of that engaging conversation you had.
Utilize these tips to start relationship building with your target companies to ensure you stand out in the recruiting process!
Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.