January 17, 2012

Talking with your mouth full: The Lunch Interview

About a week ago, a friend of mine asked me for some advice about a job interview at 1pm at a local cafe.

"Oh, so a lunch interview?" I asked. But he wasn't sure and unfortunately he then became nervous about whether or not he should eat something before the interview. Well, if you're not sure, you can always double check with the interviewer but I venture to guess that if you're meeting at a food place around lunchtime, it's a lunch interview (it definitely turned out to be one in this case).

Personally, I feel fortunate to have never yet had an interview where not only are you judged by your character, skills, and portfolio (if applicable) but by your table manners as well! Although I have not experienced a lunch interview, I do have some advice given by experienced lunch interviewees that I would like to pass on to you.

  1. Have a light snack beforehand - If you know you'll be ravenous by the time the interview starts, eat a little something prior to the interview. You won't be able to think as clearly on an empty stomach, and if you have a particularly vocal stomach, you don't want to set yourself up for embarrassment either. Definitely leave room for food to have during the interview, though. The whole point of eating a little something before the interview is just to pad your stomach a little to prevent yourself from being absolutely famished when you arrive.
  2. Arrive on time (or early!) - Your interviewer is likely arriving with an appetite, and I don't know about you, but I can get a little irritable when I'm hungry. So be punctual! If anything, it's more important for this type of interview than for more traditional ones.
  3. Wear what you would to a non-lunch interview - Do not dress down even if you know you're meeting at a casual place. This is still an interview and you still need to look professional.
  4. Carefully consider your food order - Avoid messy foods and opt for meals that you eat with utensils. Also try not to get anything that has a particularly strong odor (I know some people who can't stand the smell of fish, for example).
  5. Be extra polite to your server - If you're at all rude to your waiter, the interviewer will think any politeness shown to him is just for show. So be nice to everyone you come in contact with in his presence (and in general, really. I mean why should you ever stop being nice to people?)

For more tips, check out this post on 25 Tips for Acing the Lunch Interview.

By the way, some of these tips also translate well to first dates. Just sayin'.

Katie Hazard | Digital Artist, User Experience Designer
khazard@internlikearockstar.com | @katie_hazard
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