The XX Factor

The Only Job Interview Tip You’ll Ever Need

One tall Colombian coffee, extra everything, plus gold leaf sprinkles

Photo by Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

The best “lean in” advice of the day/week/2013 comes from Toast writer Mallory Ortberg. (Technically, this particular blaze of wisdom is gender neutral, but I bet women especially need to hear it.) The wisdom is: When you go on a job interview, and the guy in the suit waves grandly at the drink options on the Starbucks chalk board, and asks you if you’d like something, you must honor one immutable rule. You must always, always “resist the urge to say, ‘no thanks, I’m fine,’” writes Ortberg.

Why is this? Is it some kind of mind-game? Do you teach a potential employer to value you by demonstrating that you value yourself (at $1.85 for a tall coffee)?

Don’t overthink it. We are talking free food. Or, as Ortberg elucidates:

It is an admirable impulse on your part, I am sure; an attempt to demonstrate your innate stoicism and willingness to Go Without for the Sake of the Company, but you are cutting yourself off at the knees. Nothing in life is certain, and you have almost no chance of getting this job. They are meeting you in a Starbucks. They are not serious about you. The job listing was posted merely as a horrible joke; they have known the exact name of the man (it is a man) they planned to hire for months, and he has known too. Order a goddamn bagel and a large coffee. Soak them for all they’re fucking worth.

Literally! Soak them, by spilling the last two ounces of Venti macchiato you couldn’t drink on the guy’s pants. What do you have to lose? Perhaps that sounds like leaning in too far, but, on the other hand, the interviewer may then get to expense his dry cleaning bill: This will endear you to him because—fact—everyone loves spending the boss’s money. The only real caveat I can think of to Mallory’s free food imperative is that you might get apple fritter in your teeth while chewing thoughtfully over some question about your social media proficiency. Note, though, that chewing and sipping themselves are excellent ways to stall for time.