Lunch Interviews: The Good, The Bad and The Hilarious

Your resume knocked the competition out of the park, and now you’ve graduated to the next step: the interview.

But it’s not just any ordinary interview. It’s a lunch interview. You’re going to eat a meal with the person who holds the power to grant you the job of your dreams. Visions of blind dates gone awkwardly, horrendously wrong flash through your mind.  You feel woozy. Can you do this?

Yes you can. The lunch interview is a challenge that will test your social skills and your ability to wax poetic about your work experience while stabbing a forkful of Caesar salad, and you’re going to own it.

However, it helps to know what to expect. Here’s the good, the bad and the straight up hilarious:

The Good

Are you the kind of person who loathes resume writing and would prefer to chat with prospective employers face-to-face so they could see how awesome you are? If the answer is “Yes!” then the lunch interview is basically your new best friend.

Lunch interviews give employers the opportunity to evaluate how you perform in a semi-casual business meeting setting. The environment allows you to reveal a bit more of your personality and learn lots about the interviewer.

For instance, don’t expect to get right down to business before the ice waters arrive.  You can ask questions, crack jokes and share stories about your day. If you have confidence, you can really thrive.

Here are some tips for owning your lunch interview:

  • Research the restaurant beforehand. If you can, scope the menu online so you have a few ideas of what to order and can spend less time choosing between the crab bisque and quinoa salad.
  • Bring your resume, a pen and pad of paper with you. Remember, you may be knocking back cheeseburger sliders but you’re still in an interview.
  • Remember your manners. Say thank you for the meal and follow up with a formal note afterwards.

The Bad

Dining can bring out the awkward and quirky in us. And while that’s usually not a problem when chowing down with friends and family, with a prospective employer, it is hardly conducive to landing the position.

Here’s what we’re talking about:

  • Quirks such as chewing on your straw, resting your elbows on the table, hunching over your plate, devouring peanut butter packets while you wait for your dish to arrive: these have got to go.
  •  Gulping back a glass of wine because the interviewer ordered a Bloody Mary so alcohol during the interview must be OK, right? Wrong.  No booze for you, ever.
  • Treating the wait staff like second-class citizens. The interviewer will notice, and will not be impressed.
  • Ordering the surf & turf or equivalent expensive menu item.  A good rule of thumb here is to synch your selection with the interviewer – you can even ask, “What’s good here?” to gauge what the appropriate price range is.
  • Attempting and/or insisting to pick up the check. No, no, no. This is a business expense for the company. Relax!

Be mindful of your situation. Whether it’s at a noisy sports bar or in a stuffy cubicle, when you meet with a prospective employer for an interview, the rules of good behavior and formality still apply.

So dress well.  Carry yourself with pride. Arrive on time and treat everyone you encounter with respect and courtesy.  You can avoid the bad completely if you take the context seriously.

The Hilarious

So you’re trying to elaborate on the invaluable life experience you gained during a volunteering stint with the Red Cross – with a sloppy, dripping club sandwich clenched between your fingers.

Take a moment here. Put down the sandwich. The most hilarious element of a lunch interview is the attempt to maneuver food gracefully while engaging the interviewer with informative, attractive conversation.  With even the most discreet of meal selections (chicken risotto, anyone?), there is still going to be that moment where your mouth is full and you need to chomp like a lawnmower to answer your interviewer’s question. Just let your mind envision that display of absurd hilarity, OK?

Word for wise:

  • Avoid messy dishes. Pretty obvious. We’re talking ribs, chicken wings, stringy pastas, condiment-loaded burgers and sandwiches.
  • Eat a hearty snack before you arrive, so you don’t feel compelled to attack your plate like a starved animal. You’re going to be doing most of the talking, so don’t expect to eat much.
  • Stay away from garlic, onions and pesky little flecks of green stuff that could get stuck in your teeth.

Leave the slapstick comedy for a Jim Carrey movie. Choose your meal wisely and your bites carefully. It could make all the difference.

Winning The Lunch Interview – Staffing Agencies Can Help, Too

Staffing agencies don’t just set you up with prospective employers – they’re with you every step of the way, from resume writing to helping you hone interview skills.

Get in touch with Stacey at Aspire Hiring to learn more about career services in Kelowna!