Let's Lunch: How to Ace Your Lunch Interview

Dining out for lunch or dinner is usually a pleasant experience, unless you are being interviewed while you eat. While lunch interviews are less common, you need to be prepared for all types of situations in order to ace your interview. The following tips will prepare you for your upcoming lunch interview.


            Logistics – While setting up the meeting with the interviewer, be sure to ask for the name and address of the restaurant, the name of the person you are meeting, and how you will connect with the interviewer when you get there. Knowing these details will give you time to prepare and be less stressed when you arrive.           

            Research the Restaurant – Knowing about the restaurant will help you decide what is appropriate to wear, and looking up the menu will allow you to choose what to order ahead of time.

            Arrive Early – Ensure you arrive on time by mapping the route you will take, and knowing where the restaurant is located. Try to arrive 10 minutes early to give yourself time to relax before meeting with the interviewer.

            Turn Off Your Phone – Before you walk into the restaurant make sure your phone is off, or at least on silent. This interview is about getting to know the company and how you will fit, not about how fast you can respond to a text.

During the Interview:        

            Etiquette – Use your best manners and order strategically.

                 - Put your napkin in your lap.

                 - Don’t order the most expensive item on the menu. Ask your interviewers if they have been there before and have suggestions - typically this will give you an appropriate price range.

                 - Think about what food you can eat without making a mess and while holding a conversation.

                 - Avoid ordering messy or sticky finger foods, long-noodled pastas, or soups that you slurp.

                 - Eat bite-sized pieces slowly and chew your food. Order a meal that requires using a fork and knife.

                 - Do not order alcohol. No matter how causal the interview is, you want to put your best self forward. This means saying no to alcohol, even if your interviewers are ordering a drink.

                 - Don’t talk too much – yes this is an interview, but it should be a conversation.  Interviewers love to add a long pause to see what you will say when you are nervous and faced with silence.

                 - Good Manners – Your interviewers are looking to see how you will represent the company in future social settings. Say please and thank you, and respect the wait staff and other employees.

             Dialogue – Don’t be afraid to engage in two-way dialogue. Answer questions they are asking you, but also ask your own questions when appropriate. Follow your interviewers‘ lead and listen closely for when they switch from casual dialogue to more serious questions about you and your fit for the position. In casual conversation stay away from touchy subjects such as religion and politics, and remember you still don’t have to talk about your personal life.

Wrapping Up:

            Next Steps – Make sure you ask about any next steps in the interview process and a timeline for decisions. This will also help when you are writing your thank you note.

            Thank Your Interviewers – Be sure to sincerely thank them for the time and the meal, both as they are paying and as you are leaving the restaurant.


For more information, check out this Job-Hunt.com article, this TheMuse.com article, or this Monster.com article.