“Let’s Meet Over Lunch!” A Guide to Acing an Interview Over a Meal

I’ve always loved to cook and go out to eat, and I have had my fair share of part time jobs. I’ve noticed in college that we talk about restaurants all the time, and we talk about our jobs and internships all the time. Why don’t we talk about how to handle when the two meet? It’s becoming more common that companies invite candidates for lunch or coffee for an interview or to discuss the position. This may seem daunting. But, have no fear! Your guide to ace an interview over a meal is here!

Preparation

Before you even worry about what you should eat, there are a few things you should get in order before interview day. Since you already know where you’ll be dining, take it upon yourself to look up the menu or stop in if you’re nervous. Feeling the location out prior can help ease a lot of the nerves caused by fearing the unknown. Also, make sure you know how long it will take you to get there and what the dress code is. These may seem small, but you’d be shocked at how much more calm you’ll be if you do some research.

The Big Day

Like any interview, arriving early is a must. You don’t want to leave anyone waiting, but you also can alleviate more of those pre-interview jitters by giving yourself time to breath. Once seated, remember all of those manner rules that you may not have thought about since your middle school days. They should just come naturally, but if your nerves are doing a number on you, remember to be your best and respectful self. In terms of the meal, use common sense. Finger foods may not be your best choice, instead opt for something you can easily pick on with a knife and fork. Keep in mind as you go through the interview, the best part about this setting is that if you get stuck on how to answer you can take a small bite of food! Make sure you don’t forget to wipe your mouth in between bites and to manage your time wisely between eating and talking.

Wrapping it Up (Literally)

After much research, I’ve found that taking your food to-go isn’t a good idea on an interview. Although bagging shows that you are being conscious about the cost and that you are trying to not be wasteful, your best bet is to leave the food at the restaurant. Dessert works just like the rest of your meal—follow their lead and see what they do. It’s fair to assume that if you were invited out, they will be paying for the meal. But, make sure you mention the meal in your thank you note or email. Depending on where you live and how a company feels about the environment, make sure you research the best way to thank them for the opportunity and for your meal.

Final Thoughts

If you keep your manners and goals in mind, this interview is yours for the winning! Half the battle is preparation and keeping your nerves under control. Just because your interview is not in a typical setting doesn’t mean it can’t be a great experience. Eat, breathe, and land that position!

 

Have you ever been interviewed over a meal? Share your experiences in the comments section!

This guest blog post was written by PRowl account associate Joei DeCarlo. 

 

 

 

 

 

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