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Where to meet your Candidate

Posted 27/11/2018 by Julian Segal
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What is one of the first rules of recruitment (in my book anyway)? It’s not “there is no such thing as recruitment” (forgive me Edward Norton). High up the list should be... meet your candidates.

How can you possibly hope to build a strong and lasting relationship with someone, act as their trusted advisor and ask them to put their career in your hands, if you are nothing more than a voice at the other end of a crackly phone line?

This applies both to candidates that you have known for many years and entirely new candidates who you may have successfully headhunted just the day before.

So, the all-important question is - once the meeting is in the diary, where should you chose for the venue?

The art of choosing an appropriate venue, whilst not as complex as the Riddle of the Sphynx or a PhD in molecular biology, is something that needs to be considered.

We want to be able to hear each other, we don’t want the candidate to bump into their line manager, we want to create the right impression in how we operate and we want to have a cup of coffee that doesn’t taste like a brown crayon which has been dipped into a mug of boiling water.

We should probably consider our options in the following order.

  1. Is the venue somewhere that is convenient for both parties to get to (and not to close to the candidate’s office that they are likely to be spotted?)
  2. What are the acoustics like?
  3. Are we likely to find a table?
  4. What impression does the choice of venue say about us?
  5. How comfortable is it?
  6. Price / quality of fare


Many recruiters prefer meetings in their own office and this should be suggested as the first port of call, primarily because it satisfies many of the above requirements. What’s more, the price of the drinks will be ideal (and keep your Directors happy), but on the downside the coffee will probably taste like crap.

However, aren’t our candidates as much our customers as our clients are? Should we be putting them out and making them traipse across <insert name of city where you work> rather than us making it more convenient for them?

If we are to meet them away from work, permit me to note the following observations of where to meet and where not to meet:


McDonald’s, Subway, Greggs, Eat, Pret A Manager – Sorry, you want your candidate to think of you as a what did you say?

Starbucks, Costa, Nero etc - not exactly going to ‘wow’ your candidate and make them think you’re a mover and shaker. You will probably have to queue at a bar rather than get table service and thus waste a precious 10 minutes of your meeting.

Artisan (ie non-chain) coffee shops - The stench of roasting coffee beans can be over powering. Also, liable to be overcrowded and usually have uncomfortable, hard seating i.e. cobbled together planks of wood from their crates of Fairtrade bananas.

Pubs / Bars / Sheesha Clubs - Sorry, you want your candidate to think of you as what did you say?

Private Members Clubs – Perfect. If you happen to be a member of one. That happens to be near your candidate’s office. Which rules nearly 100% of us out.

Hotel Bars – Congratulations, you have finally stumbled upon the correct answer. We are not talking about the Dorchester, but any reasonable hotel bar (and there are plenty of hotels in most cities) should be relatively quiet, have good acoustics, be set to the right temperature and have comfortable seating. Hotel bars create the right impression with your candidate “I like this recruitment consultant. He/she takes me to swanky hotels. My husband/wife doesn’t even do this. I want to work only with him/her and their jobs.”

If you want to be taken to a swanky hotel bar, get in touch with me here. 

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