Job Interviews Over Lunch: 15 Tips for Success

On July 1, 2013, in job search, by Barbara Nixon
two-pronged attack

Image Credit: “two-pronged attack” by Jenny Downing

If you’re participating in an all-day (or several hour) job interview, it’s likely that you will be eating lunch or dinner with your interviewer(s). Here are just a few tips to help you succeed in this circumstance:

  1. Brush up on the news. There will likely be some “casual” conversation during this lunch interview.
  2. Use your best manners. (This should go without saying.)
  3. Bring along a small notepad and pen. You may need to jot something down during the meal.
  4. If you know ahead of time where you will be eating, review the restaurant’s menu and choose two or three possibilities.
  5. Order something from the middle price point on the menu.
  6. Choose food that can be eaten with fork and knife, if possible. Avoid potentially messy food (like some sandwiches, soups and salads) and smelly food like onions and garlic.
  7. Order something light or small. You will be doing a lot of talking during this meal.
  8. Food allergies or sensitivities? Try to order something on the menu that you can eat without special preparation by the chef, if at all possible.
  9. If rolls or bread are provided, tear off a small piece (what you will eat in a bit or two) and butter just that. (Do not butter the entire piece at one time.)
  10. Choose something uncarbonated to drink, like water or iced tea.
  11. Be exceptionally polite to the servers; how you treat them is a good sign of how you may treat employees or co-workers.
  12. Avoid overly personal conversation. Don’t say anything you would not say in the interviewer’s office.
  13. Leave your cell phone in your pocket or purse. Don’t take it out even if the interviewer takes his or hers out. (The only exception to this is if you and the interviewer need to look at your calendars for planning a follow-up interview.)
  14. And bring a dental floss pick with you; you can use this if needed when you are in the restroom. It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

Always remember this one key tip: don’t let your guard down. Even though the setting may seem more informal during a meal, you are still being interviewed and evaluated.

Do you have other tips you’d recommend? Or a story about a lunch interview that went exceptionally well . . . or terribly?


2 Responses to Job Interviews Over Lunch: 15 Tips for Success

  1. This blog is really helpful i have always wondered what you should do if you have to eat in front of your interviewer. The one note that especially stood out to me was where you talk about ordering food that is light or small i found that to be very interesting and it makes sense because you wouldn’t want to be eating a big meal just in case it wouldn’t agree with you because you would more then likely to be very nervous. These are some great tips that i will use if i ever have a lunch interview in the future. Thank you

  2. afrankiewicz says:

    I really like this blog post because everyone is always nervous when they go on interviews. I have never been on a lunch interview before but if I ever do go on one, I now know what to look forward to. I like tip number three because it shows that you are prepared and organized. I also like “don’t let your guard down,” because like you said the setting may seem informal but you are still being interviewed!