Not every job interview takes place in the office. Sometimes employers want to take their applicants out to eat and put them in an environment they might find comfortable. These out of office lunch interviews are not uncommon, especially in today’s mobile world. If you have a lunch job interview, here are several tips for helping you succeed.
1. Don’t Get Too Relaxed – Food tends to make people feel too comfortable. Don’t forget what you learned about job interviews simply because you have a sandwich in your hand.
2. Dress the Same – Just because the interview takes place at a non-fancy location does not mean that you need to dress for the location. Dress professionally.
3. Arrive First – Unlike office interviews, hiring managers have nothing to do at these dining locations but wait for you to arrive. Arrive first and wait outside so that the employer does not have to wait for you.
4. Pay Attention to What You Drink – Don’t order an alcoholic beverage. Don’t order a child’s drink like apple juice. Water is fine, tea is fine, coffee is fine.
5. Pay Attention to What You Order – The company will pay for it, so don’t waste their money. Also, don’t forget that the interviewer is going to be watching you eat, so don’t eat anything disgusting.
6. Order Something You Can Finish – You have to answer a lot of questions. You do not want to have a lot of food on your plate simply because you were too busy talking. Smaller meals allow you to finish more quickly, and also help ensure that you clean your plate.
7. Fold the Napkin On Your Lap – It is considered adult, and it will give you an opportunity to wipe your hands if you are feeling nervous.
8. Use Utensils Correctly – If you don’t already know which fork goes to what meal, look it up before you get to the restaurant.
9. Take Smaller Bites – Smaller bites allow you to finish more quickly if you need to answer a question, so that you are not talking with your mouth full or providing extensive pauses while you chew your food.
10. Don’t Try to Pay – Unlike a date, you are not expected to pay, and you should not try to pay. However, have money on hand in the very rare case that there is a problem or the employer does expect you to pay. If you pay for your own meal, don’t work for that employer.
11. If You Arrive Very Early, Let the Waiter/Waitress Know – If you show up early to your job interview and you are certain the interviewer has not arrived, let the wait staff know that you are there for a job interview. It may help you get better service.
12. Be Pleasant to the Wait Staff – Always be very friendly to the wait staff throughout your job interview. Don’t ignore them or act like they are your slaves. Pleases and thank yous are lovely.
13. Only Order Meals Your Interviewer Orders – If your interviewer does not order an appetizer or a dessert, you should not either. If they do, go for it.
14. Don’t Discuss the Menu – Unless prompted by the interviewer, you do not want to complain about certain foods or rave about others.
15. Don’t Eat Too Quickly – While you shouldn’t eat too slowly, you do want to keep pace with the interviewer. Finishing quickly may cause the interviewer to feel self-conscious. Also, choking will reflect poorly on your interview.
16. Your Meal Does Not Have to Be Perfect – Never complain about an error to your meal, ask for your meal to be re-made, or make it sound as though you will never come back to that restaurant again. As far as the interviewer is concerned, everything was perfect.
17. Send a Follow Up – Thank you letters are still important, even though the interview is not traditional.
If you follow these tips, your lunch job interview will be much more successful.
- US News article on lunch interviews
- Monster.com article on lunch interviews
- The Ladders article on lunch interviews