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How do I Handle a Job Interview over Lunch?

Diana Bocco
Updated Jan 23, 2024
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Lunch interviews are becoming more and more common in many professional areas. While a regular job interview requires a certain set of skills, a lunch interview can be especially tricky. If you are facing one, however, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of acing that job interview.

For starters, obey all rules of a regular job interview. Dress appropriately, show up on time, and bring any required papers in a portfolio that is easy to set aside in case your potential employer wants to wait until after dessert to take a look at it. Being late to a job interview is always a no-no, but being late to a lunch interview is particularly damaging. People usually hold interviews over lunch because they lack the time to meet you at their office; if you are late, you are seriously reducing your chances for getting the job.

A job interview held at lunch offers you the chance of showing off your table manners. If you don't remember where the napkin goes or which fork to use, practice before the actual job interview. If you smoke, avoid the temptation, even if the restaurant allows it. Keep your elbows off the table, turn off your cell phone, and do not order anything too messy to eat, such as fried chicken or spaghetti.

When it comes to ordering during a job interview, always let others be your guide. Ask for something on the same price range, and skip alcohol if nobody else is having it. If you are forced to order first, stick to mineral water and don't select anything too pricey. Always try to pick up on what the other person is doing and try to mirror it. Is he ordering dessert? Join him. Is he eating slowly and speaking between bites? Do the same.

Remember to be polite to those around you. How you talk to the waiter says a lot about you and it can mean a world of difference to the person on the opposite side of the table. After the job interview is over, remember to send a thank you note.

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Diana Bocco
By Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco, a versatile writer with a distinct voice, creates compelling long-form and short-form content for various businesses. With a data-focused approach and a talent for sharing engaging stories, Diana’s written work gets noticed and drives results.
Discussion Comments
By cafe41 — On May 20, 2011

@Sunshine31-I think that it is important to remember any information that the interviewer mentions during the phone interview. This could be a point of conversation when you sit down and have lunch.

Usually there is some small talk and if you remember some of the information that the interviewer revealed about his or herself it will not only impress the interviewer because of your attention to detail, but it will give you something to talk about before the interview gets started.

For example, if the interviewer mentioned that they were from a specific town, find out information about that town so that you can talk to them about it. I also think that making eye contact and being cordial is really important too.

By sunshine31 — On May 19, 2011

@SurfNTurf - I think that that is a good idea. It is also important to have answers to difficult questions. You should really be able to answer questions regarding your weaknesses as well as any gaps in employment.

Those are common job interview questions that usually make a person nervous. I always think that it is important to ask for the job and remain confident. This helps to let me know what the next steps will be and gives me an idea if I am in the running or not.

By surfNturf — On May 17, 2011

I have done job interviews over lunch and it does make you a little more nervous. I think that the best tips for a job interview like this is for you to prepare and visualize what will happen the day of the interview.

I sort of have a mock job interview before hand with a friend so that I could practice my responses so that when I hear common job interview questions I will respond automatically and my nerves will not get the best of me.

It also helps if you know something about the restaurant that you will be visiting. If you are familiar with the menu it can make it easier to order your food when the time comes because you will have something in mind.

I always order a salad because it is filling and easy to eat. It is also healthy and not too expensive.

Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco, a versatile writer with a distinct voice, creates compelling long-form and short-form content for various...
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