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I’ve always been classed as a Maverick, never more so than with interviewing. It’s ledGary Chaplin Maverick to my biggest career arguments spanning 20 years:

  • My interview training back in 1994 that insisted interviews were a scientific process.
  • The 60+ yr old Executive Search stalwart in 1999 that reprimanded me for being conversational, and smiling, during an interview.
  • The recruitment MD that insisted interviews were all about wrestling control; promoted their interviews as being the toughest around; and held a WWII plane-side tally of Executives their interview style had ‘broken’ in an almost Luftwaffe/Alfred Grislawski fashion.

But I disagreed. And I’m still right. The biggest question my clients ask at Shortlist is “What is he/she like….?”.

Providing an answer that “they interview well”, or that they didn’t “break during a Nazi-esque interrogation interview”, won’t answer that question, or give insight into what each candidate is like.

By the time a process has whittled over hundred targets down to a shortlist of 4 or 5, ability to do the job is a foregone conclusion, the only question to answer is that of cultural and commercial fit.

As I described in my blog Think Different. Think Chemistry Fit. (No Such Thing As Bad PR),……it is all down to Chemistry Fit! A control-fought, scientific, Luftwaffe interrogation (without smiling) isn’t going to uncover that.

Think Different.

Steve Jobs maintained Think Different at Apple. My different is my focus on Chemistry Fit, and for that reason, when I started my business, I took the decision never to interview in an office again. Nor in a suit/tie.

My objective is to understand the interviewee. To see their true personality, not their defensive, over-cautious, interview personality. Keeping them in their comfort-zone is important. By the time I interview for a role, I have spent at least a day with my client, in their offices wherever confidentiality constraints allow, all in the name of understanding the business, the people and it’s culture. The Client side of the Chemistry Fit equation. Matching Candidate-side Chemistry Fit relies on the ability to gain insight into natural, not adapted personalities.


…..but there is more. I discovered the principles of Mindfulness some time ago (watch Andy Puddicombe’s brilliant 9min TED Talk if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

A key aspect of Mindfulness is to break conscious and subconscious routines (and the interaction between the two). Changing where you work, even changing desks, is a great way of doing that. I discovered changing where I worked had huge gains to my productivity, the quality of my output, and my own well-being. The same thing applies to candidates in interview. Having them in a different, more unusual setting, is like a defibrillator for the conscious mind.

Roam-Working – My Top 10 Manchester Locations

The growth of Mobile Connectivity has brought infinite possibilities for general working whilst out and about. No longer do we need to find office space or business centres to be effective when not in the office.

All that places need is WiFi, power, workspace and ideally coffee/refreshments on tap. Few places struggle to tick all boxes, but what are my favourite Manchester locations to work, and even more so, interview (in no order!)


Inside Club Brass

Club Brass at Hotel Gotham
Private Members club above the new Hotel Gotham, top of King Street. This place is tailor-made for Roam Working, and for Maverick HeadHunters. Only £500 per year membership, but it brings great quiet, refined, high-class and discreet surroundings, fast WiFi, numerous charging points, ample quiet spaces, perfect selection of high quality drinks and food (and it’s outstanding restaurant, Honey) and it’s pièce de résistance, three outdoor terraces, 7 floors up, all with views across the Manchester skyline. It also brings an aura of exclusivity being a Private Members Club, and gives an automatic concierge to greet guests.

Gotham outdoor2GothamInside3Gothamoutdoor3

Manchester House

Manchester House

Manchester House, Lounge on 12
Very similar to Club Brass, without the Private Members Club exclusivity but with the now familiar and well proven Living Ventures excellent execution. Similar level of service to the Hotel Gotham club, numerous different areas and seating arrangements, rooftop views and a strong range of refreshments (although Gin selection could be better….!). Sat atop Aiden Byrne’s Michelin Star vying Restaurant, option for food is arguably better – but public accessibility means that daytime/afternoons can be busier and louder.

MHManchester HouseManchester House

PKB – Pot Kettle Black
A true favourite. Quirky but an extremely homely artisan coffee shop in the Barton Arcade. Founded by St Helen’s Rugby Stars, Jon Wilkin and Mark Flanagan, they mix great informality with great coffee and a different approach to bland international coffee shops. Loads of charging points and great WiFi (and the added privacy of their Wing-Backed chairs if you need), PKB is a superb informal meeting spot and Hot-Desking/Roam-Working favourite. They even run BootCamp training sessions, early in the morning on the roof of Barton Arcade…!

San Carlo Gran Café
The latest of San Carlo’s Manchester offerings, found in the basement of Selfridges. Italian flair, to say nothing of Italian coffee and a range of Italian desserts & Torte (try the Tiramisu!). San Carlo Gran Café is also home to the finest Full English Breakfast in Manchester – a steal at less than £8. Good wifi and a lack of power outlets make this a more relaxed meeting place than a top Roam-Working venue, but with gastronomical delights like this, you’ll want to share the experience.
San Carlo Gran Cafe 2 San Carlo Gran Cafe

Rapha Cycle Club
This may be a new one for most. Rapha, market leader in Cycling gear have a café on King Street. No really. OK, so it overlooks King Street, but with it’s entrance on St Ann’s Passage. Just have a look above Crombie on King Street, you see a tell-tale Team Sky bike in the window. The café is very cool, quick WiFi, great coffee and a very unusual set up, especially for the cycling fan (although the shop that you walk through can be a dangerous gauntlet to run). The only downside is the lack of power sockets leaving it a short-haul stay, unless you have a full and well-functioning Mac/Laptop battery.
RaphaCafe RaphaCafe2 RaphaCafe3

The AlchemistAlchemist
Long-term favorite of mine, recently extended to give a more varied offering. My favourite window-side sofa has gone, but the flexibility of seating options has increased. Busy at lunch and post-work, but with opening hours from 10am, it gives a great, bright and central meeting point in the middle of Spinningfields.

Great John Street
Another little gem tucked away to the south of Spinningfields, a boutique hotel set in a converted school. Several character filled rooms – especially the Library; service as you would expect from a leading 4-star boutique hotel and a great rooftop terrace, again offering views across Manchester/Castlefield.
GreatJohnStreet3GreatJohnSt GreatJohnStreet2

Manchester Escalator
A more unusual space, set up almost exclusively for Roam-Working, but with a public coffee shop and a full presentation auditorium. Set under the arches of the Great Northern Warehouse complex, the Manchester Escalator is a Barclays funded project offering the Roam-Worker a full office set up from meeting rooms to collaborative working. Class leading technology and the ability to host events of any nature make this a compelling, very different option
ManchesterEscalator ManchesterEscalator2 ManchesterEscalator3

Yes there are only eight above. Watch this space for more recommendations…..

…..or send me your favourites for inclusion here!

Further afield…..


The Snug

The Botanist – Alderley Edge
Perennial favourite of mine, again recently extended with a new upstairs area and now includes a fantastic ‘snug’ upstairs which has fast become a favoured spot for interviewing as well as Roam-Working. Fast WiFi, great service, full selection of food & refreshments (and Gin) and one of the most unusual surroundings and imaginative environments around – The Wild West meets Victoriana. Also boasts four separate outdoor areas.

Cook & Baker – WilmslowCookAndBaker
Independent Coffee Shop with a real flair and style. Centrally located, very good WiFi and plenty of power points. Full Coffee Shop refreshments and fantastic own-cooked artisan foods and cakes. Closes at 4pm but opens early. Be aware of the ‘Cheshire Yummy Mummy’ rush just after school run times.

Alderley Edge Café – Alderley Edge
Village CafeCheshire take on the ‘greasy spoon café’, but a very upmarket version of. Always busy, a real ‘it’ place for breakfast – more Cheshire business(wo)men can be found breakfasting here than at forced networking events. Great WiFi, owner-managed levels of service and Cheshire’s best Fry-Up plus the healthy alternatives (try the off-the-menu ‘Nick Bianchi’ Omelette) for those breakfast meetings….

CorksOut – Alderley Edge
…and at the other end of the day, this is a great option for late afternoonCorksOut onwards. What started off as an Off Licence with a couple of seats, has developed into a fully fledged bar, with outdoor seating area,…and a little boutique Wine/Spirit Merchant at the rear of the store. Fantastic setting, good WiFi (and the ability to piggy-back off next-door Gusto’s if needs be), a great selection of premium drinks (and a healthy Gin collection for consumption and off-sale), with the added benefit of having highly knowledgeable staff to introduce you to some unusual refreshments. Feels just like meeting/working in a high-class wine cellar.

Café Tuscano – KnutsfordCafeTuscano
Hidden gem in the centre of Knutsford. A true Milanese style café based on Regent Street. Bags of charm, great coffee, good WiFi and a ton of Italian flair, all based 5 mins from M6 Jct 19, perfect daytime meeting venue, inside or out….

Old Sessions House
…..then later on in the day, New Moon’s Old Sessions House is a perfect venue. Again good WiFi, loads of ‘nooks and crannies’ to work in, hide in, meet people in, all in a very welcoming atmosphere.
Old Sessions HouseOld Sessions House

Crewe Hall – M6 South (Jct 16)
Firm favourite for southerly meetings, especially for US interviewees. A former CreweHall217th Century manor house, build in 1612 by Sir Ranulph Crewe (who spent a fortune and 24 years building it). Now a Q-Hotel, but still retains its old-world charm….and very much like interviewing in Downton Abbey. Good WiFi and a typical ‘large hotel’ level of service and refreshments. Be aware of a ‘no-devices’ rule from lunchtime onwards in the main lounge so as not to disturb ‘Afternoon Tea’.

More Mobile?

Gary Chaplin Car WorkingOf course with the increase of mobility, so does Roam-Working portability. Back garden, holiday balcony and an increasingly useful option of using your iPhone 4G Mobile Hotspot to work from the back of your car between meetings (or while waiting for your daughter’s weekend dance class to finish….)

Holding meetings/interviews in some of the places above and Roam-Working in even more, holds huge benefit and means you get more of a buzz, and greater productivity when you get back to your traditional office: