aodaodaodaod/Shutterstock.com

Should You Accept A Glass of Water at a Job Interview?

Remember: Refreshments wouldn’t be offered if the other party wasn’t comfortable doing so.

Q: Should you accept a cup of coffee or water at a job interview? 

Dear Parched Job Applicant:

Don’t be afraid to drink the Kool-Aid (read: double shot of espresso): It’s 110% OK to accept a cup of Joe at a job interview when it’s offered. Not only will it make you more comfortable personally—not to mention caffeinated and alert—but it will also make your hosts more comfortable in your presence, sending the message that you’re (a) appreciative of their hospitality (b) at ease and in their presence and (c) confident in yourself. Equally important, accepting the drink also helps establish a social dynamic in which parties are more apt to treat each other as equals who aren’t above assisting and helping each other out (i.e. team players)—even if one party is technically in a subordinate role.

Worried that you’re wasting a possible boss’s time or being a bother by needing something to sip on? Remember: Refreshments wouldn’t be offered if the other party wasn’t comfortable doing so—and such an offer is often provided as a casual bridge to more formal conversation during which small talk can occur. In fact, the few minutes it takes during which to make and/or consume a drink, especially if you’ve got to walk through the office to visit the kitchen, offer valuable time during which you can:

  • Refresh, relax, and mentally prepare for the meeting
  • Get comfortable with your surroundings
  • Gather and organize your thoughts
  • Prepare any documents—resumes, references, samples, etc.— you’ve brought for sharing
  • Notice small details (diplomas, family photos, signed baseballs or rock posters, etc.) in your surrounding environment that you may be able to draw on during conversation
  • Speak with interviewers in a more relaxed setting
  • Fortuitously bump into prospective colleagues or other contacts you’d do well to meet
  • Get a closer look at the office and other employees’ workspaces, which can give you a better sense of corporate culture, everyday office life, and the types of people with whom you’ll be spending 8 to 16 hours a day, every day, with

What’s more, the process can provide an all-important window between formal interviews, during which informal conversations can take place, helping create more opportunities to break the ice and more opportunities for potential employers to truly get to know you. It allows you to show how polite and courteous you can be— and how well you can interact and communicate with others.

In short, when provided the option of a cup of coffee or water, the correct answer here is yes, always accept the offer, even if you’re not thirsty ( you can always pretend to sip). The simple act of doing so in and of itself will make you seem more approachable and likeable.

Two quick caveats here: Don’t ask for a drink if you’re not offered one, which could be considering demanding or make others uncomfortable if they don’t have a refreshment to offer. And skip the snacks—you don’t want to chew your way through answering a question.

But alwaysalways accept the offer when a beverage is suggested: It gives you time to be more thoughtful, more relaxed, and truly take in more of your hosts and surroundings—and we’d gladly drink to that.

Scott Steinberg is the author of The Business Etiquette Bible.

Do you have a workplace etiquette question? Submit to Scott by emailing work@qz.com.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.