Why you should always accept the offer of a drink during an interview

Interviews are usually stressful occasions

When you go to an interview and the first thing your interviewer asks you is “Would you like a drink?”, it is often difficult to know how to respond.

Do you take them up on the offer, even if you are not thirsty, or do you decline because you do not want to cause them bother?

Interviews are usually stressful occasions. We may be wearing our best outfits, be primed with lots of questions and replies to deal with what is to come and know we are the best candidate for the job; however, interviews are never going to be the most relaxing situations. For several reasons, experts in the field believe you should always – if offered – take the drink.

If you are offered something, it can appear rude to say no. It is a similar situation to when someone comes to your home unannounced – your natural inclination is to offer them a drink. It is polite, kind, and shows you want them to stay; if they decline, it can seem like an insult.

If you are offered a drink, say yes. If the interviewer offers you tea or coffee and you do not like either, it is OK to ask for a glass of water instead; however, do not be picky, such as by demanding sparkling or bottled water.

The simple acceptance of a drink will help to put your host at ease, which is something you should be aspiring to in an interview. It also gives you time to settle into the situation, perhaps chatting about the weather or the traffic while you are waiting for your drink to arrive, and provides you with something to calm your nerves and soothe your throat when talking.

Having a cold drink on a hot day will serve to cool you down considerably – no one wants to see a sweaty interviewee – while a hot cup of coffee or tea in the colder months can help to warm you up. Anything that increases your comfort levels, however slightly, should be welcomed with open arms in such a stressful situation.

Having a drink on the table in front of you also provides you with a handy prop to use when you are thinking of something intelligent to say to a problematic question. You can always take a sip or two of water while your brain is getting into gear – but don’t overdo it!

If a drink is offered, it should clearly always be taken; however, there are two caveats to this approach. The first is that you should not normally ask for a drink if one is not offered, as this can appear rude. If your throat is dry and you are coughing with the effort, your host will hopefully offer you water as a matter of politeness.

The second is that if you are offered food, just say no! Unless it is a specific lunchtime meeting, eating is too distracting and messy to cope with in an interview.

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The British Institute of Recruiters is the Professional Body operating The Recruitment Certification Scheme

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