Mastering The Lunch Interview

Businesspeople having lunch indoors.Make sure you don’t have food between your teeth when talking!   The lunch interview is much more than just “lunch”.   The interviewer is watching is everything.
Interviews can be nerve-racking, brain-draining, headache-inducing experiences. These days, recruiters have found a way to make the interview even more difficult by combining the experience with a meal. This means that in addition to listening to the interviewer,formulating intelligent responses, and trying your hardest to be confident, you now have pay attention to how you look while eating.

1. MIND YOUR MANNERS  It may seem unnecessary to mention, but those basic table manners you were taught as a child still matter. In casual settings, poor manners are not always corrected. Therefore, you could have picked up some habits that your mother would be ashamed of and more likely than not,your interviewer probably will not be too be impressed.

Here are just a few of the habits you should be mindful of during a meal interview:

– BE POLITE. In addition to evaluating your answers to questions, an   interviewer is also assessing your personality. Be courteous and   respectful to everyone, especially the wait staff. Words such    as “please” and “thank you” speak worlds about your character. – BE AWARE. Keeping you elbows on the table, chewing with your mouth   open, talking with your mouth full all convey a negative   impression. Pay attention to even your smallest actions. – BE PREPARED. If you feel uncertain about your table manners,   consult the experts. Emily Post’s books on etiquette are   considered to be among the definitive works on etiquette. There is   no shame in doing research; after all, this is an interview.

2. THE DISH DILEMMA  Even though you are being treated to a nice meal, you are not free to order any dish you like. You are in an interview, and therefore, you have the duty of maintaining a certain level of professionalism and formality throughout the meal.

There are no definitive rules of food selection, and you may have to make a game-time decision. However, following these rules will help you steer clear of trouble:

– AVOID MESSES. Steer clear of foods that have to be eaten with your   hands or have a tendency to splatter. It is hard to recover from   the embarrassment of splashing your interviewer with spaghetti   sauce, nor do you want to inadvertently adorn yourself with gravy   or cream sauce. So stick to foods that can be cut into small   pieces with a knife and fork. – NO STENCHES. Avoid foods that have a strong or unpleasant order.   You are better off having an interviewer not remember you at all   rather than as the candidate with bad breath. So no matter how   much you love onions and garlic, lay off the stinkers for one   meal. – KEEP IT QUIET. You need to be able to conduct a civil   conversation. Avoid foods that are crunchy and noisy to eat. In a   public setting there is a lot of noise that could drown out the   voice of a person sitting across from you so try not to order food   that would add to the problem. – FOLLOW THE LEADER. You may be wondering if a menu item is priced   too high or if to order an appetizer first, etc. The answer is to   follow your interviewer’s lead. Try to order food in the same   price range as the interviewer and order the same number of   courses. You do not want to be sitting idle while the recruiter is   still eating.

3. CONSUME AND CONVERSE  You are at an interview and also dining out. This means you need to not only be talking, but also eating. It can sometimes be difficult to do both.

Try and keep these issues in mind when posed with the challenge of eating and talking at the same time:

– YOU ARE IN CONTROL. Don’t feel so pressured to talk that you don’t   eat at all. This can be interpreted as nervousness. – ASK QUESTIONS. When going to an interview, it is always a good   idea to have questions. This will allow you get more information   on the company and show that you have done your homework. During   the meal interview, it will also give you the opportunity to   actually eat as your interviewer responds to your questions.

4. FINISHING WITH A BANG  Unlike that of a standard interview, the end of a meal interview does not just end with a handshake and a “Thank You”. There are other things to keep in mind including:

– DON’T OFFER TO PAY. It’s never expected of a job candidate, and   you don’t need to do it. – NEVER ASK FOR A DOGGY BAG. No matter how delicious the meal was,   requesting to take a portion of it home is not appropriate for the   setting. – REAFFIRM YOUR INTEREST. Let the interviewer know how much you   would like to work for his/her company. – A “Thank You” AND HANDSHAKE CAN’T HURT. As in any interview, don’t   forget to thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with   you. In addition, be sure to be gracious and say that you enjoyed   the meal and end the interview with a firm handshake. Make sure to   follow up with a thank you letter in the morning.

The meal interview is tricky, but not impossible. With a little guidance and a lot of confidence, you can sail through them with flying colors. Just try to keep these helpful hints in mind. Good luck and bon appétit!

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