Career Advice

7 Tips for a Successful Lunch Interview

min read
Vera Chan

How do you nail a job interview over lunch while eating and talking? It sounds hard, but it doesn't have to be. This article will show you how to go from a job hunt to a successful job interview over a meal.

First Things First

Scout out the location. The recruiter or hiring manager should tell you where you will be meeting, at what time, and on what date. If not, be sure to follow up beforehand, so that you have all of the information you need.

Hopefully, the interviewing party gave you enough notice in advance. With enough time to map out your plan, you have the opportunity to visit the restaurant a day or two before. This is particularly helpful to time how long it will take you to get there by your chosen transport. It is also helpful for helping to decide what to wear.

Top Tip: Take a look at the menu online if possible. This will help you determine in advance what you will order. This is so that you are not staring at the menu during the meeting and can focus on the interview at hand.

1. Be Early

Just as with any interview, to be early is to arrive in a timely manner. There may be several people present, so don't be surprised if you're not the first one there. You can get ready to have some small talk while you wait for the other parties to arrive.

2. Dress Appropriately

Your research in visiting the restaurant in advance should indicate what is appropriate. Perhaps it's formal business attire or it is more trendy. Neutral is a safe way to go. If it is too hot during summer, here are some tips.

3. Review the Interviewers

When confirming the location, date, and time, also confirm whom you will be meeting with. You can't assume that there will only be one interviewer. There could be several. For whatever the reason is, don't forget to do your LinkedIn research on the company and all parties. Familiarise yourself with their background and development. This is particularly helpful for small talk at the beginning. It is also useful for filler comments or questions throughout the interview. 

4. The Cheque

It is customary for the interviewer to get the bill. If it is placed in the wrong seat, you can politely place it on the table. The interviewer should pick up on the social cue and take their own initiative to settle the cheque.

5. Saying Goodbye

As you would at the beginning, give a firm handshake at the end along with a thank you. Don't forget to thank the interviewers for their time and the meal.

6. Talking

Be mindful not to talk too much or ask too many questions, especially back-to-back. Give the interviewer a chance to eat. Give and take appropriately whereby you take turns. Talk within a reasonable pace and whatever you do, do not talk with your mouth full. Put your hand up to indicate that you haven't finished eating yet if you need to. 

7. Etiquette

Mind your table manners. Use your napkin and place it on your lap. Be courteous to everyone including staff. Don't reach over people's tableware. Say please and thank you. Don't order the most expensive thing on the menu and don't send it back either. Alcohol is an absolute no-go. Even if the interviewer orders one, refuse so that you can stay sharp for the interview. Take small bites, so you can chew quickly and answer questions easily. And remember to make eye contact with all, not just the main interviewer if there are several people. A big no-no is also taking food away if you haven't finished. 

The Bottom Line

In addition to the above, be mindful to follow up with a thank-you email post-interview. This will help keep your candidacy top of mind. It also gives you a chance to mention anything that you forgot or to ask questions.

The above social cues will have you well-prepped to nail your lunch job interview.

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