The Lunch Interview

It's rare that an interview will take place at a restaurant over lunch, but that doesn't mean it won't happen. The good news is that such an arrangement is unlikely to be a surprise so you can prepared ahead of time. Here are some tips to making the most of a lunch interview.

  • Check out the restaurant's menu online and pick a few dishes that you would like. This way you'll be able to carry on a conversation rather than trying to focus on the menu.
  • Select a dish that can be eaten with a knife and fork. You don't want to make a mess trying to eat things like chicken wings or ribs with your hands.
  • Select a dish that is not likely to splatter on your shirt. For example, since spaghetti requires twirling on a fork to eat, there's a good chance of flicking tomato sauce on your shirt. A better choice would be penne which is pre-cut and can be “secured” with a fork.
  • Show some restraint when ordering your meal. Just because it's likely to be free, doesn't mean you should order the most expensive item on the menu.
  • Unless your host orders a bottle of wine for the table, avoid ordering alcoholic beverages. You'll want to keep your wits about you throughout the interview. Be gracious when declining a drink. You don't want to imply that you're better than the interviewer.
  • If your waiter makes a small mistake that you would normally complain about, refrain from doing so. If he makes a big mistake, be polite when describing the issue because your behavior here will be watched closely and remembered.
  • Brush up on your table etiquette. Don't spear your food with your fork! Use your knife to cut bit-sized pieces. When in doubt about which utensil to use, work from the outside in.
  • Be prepared to carry the conversation. Your interviewer may want to test your ability to do so.
  • It's typical for the interviewer to pay the bill, but that doesn't mean they always will. Be ready to pay your share if it seems expected.

For additional lunch interview tips, check out this article from CNN. It's more about business lunches rather than interviews, but many of the recommendations still apply.

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