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How to Survive and Excel at a Lunch Interview

CATEGORY: Interview Best Practices
POSTED: November 27, 2013 at 4:31 pm

How to Survive and Excel at a Lunch Interview

by Cindy C, ResumeEdge Certified Writer


Regular job interviews are stressful enough. You have to be “on” every moment. You must dress appropriately. Thoughts of tricky questions that the hiring manager might spring on you are racing through your mind. But the lunch interview—now, that is an entirely different ballgame. You must master the challenges of the regular office interview, with a side of table manners thrown in! Here are some interview tips to help you get through a lunch interview without a hitch.


Location, Location, Location


First of all, know where you’re going. Check out the restaurant’s website. If the restaurant has multiple locations, double-check to be sure that the location where your interview is scheduled is correct. Take a look at the menu, check the prices, and have an idea of what you will order. If you have a GPS and are not familiar with the route you’ll be taking, lock the address in.


Dress for the Interview *and* the Restaurant


You probably already know to dress appropriately for the interview, which usually involves a suit unless you are in a more creative field. But you should also consider the restaurant and its clientele. If the atmosphere is casual, a regular suit should be just fine. But if five stars are involved, you might consider designer wear.


Do Your Homework


This cannot be stressed enough. Research the company and come prepared with intelligent questions about it and the position you are applying for. Know the company’s line of business and the names of key executives. Take time to read the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, or the news source of your choice the morning of your interview and be prepared to talk about current events and world happenings. Most important of all, don’t forget to bring a copy of your professional resume!


Be the First to Arrive


Try to get to the restaurant before your interviewers arrive. This will give you enough time to double-check your appearance and make sure your portfolio, if you have one, is in order. Even if you are early, scan the seating area to see if your party has already arrived. If not, wait in the lobby until they do.


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Manners Matter


Now it’s time to “follow the leader.” After everyone else is seated, place your napkin on your lap. After your interviewers open their menus, open yours. Out of courtesy and most likely a bit of curiosity about what you will order, your interviewer will probably request that you order first. Beverages are usually first, and it goes without saying that alcohol should be avoided. Stick with coffee, iced tea, or water. Sparking water is always a good choice, as it is both simple and sophisticated.


Now, for the Food


At this point, you have researched the menu, and have an idea of pricing and what you might order. Your best choice is to stay in the middle of the road as far as pricing goes. Not too pricey and not too cheap. Order fairly simple foods that can be eaten with a knife and fork. Avoid foods that are spill hazards, such as salads, soups, and spaghetti. Also avoid foods that could stick to your teeth, like spinach or broccoli.


Show Your Stuff


If you have a portfolio or work samples, the best time to show them is after the table has been cleared, but let the interviewers make that decision.


Be Polite


Treat your servers well. The way a patron treats servers is very revealing of his character in general. Don’t be picky about your food. This meal is all about the interview, not whether you want your salad dressing on the side. Don’t eat too fast, and even if you’re nervous, try to eat at least half of your meal. If the interviewer orders dessert, it is safe to do so. The interviewer will most likely pick up the tab, so be sure to thank him or her for the meal at the time, and again in your thank you note or email.


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Cindy C.

With more than a 1000 resumes to her credit, Cindy specializes in Information Technology, Engineering, and Computers Hardware/Software. She has been in technical writing, marketing communications, business development and sales support for 20+ years.

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