Minding Your Manners at Your Next Lunch Interview

lunch break habits

Non-verbal communication can say a lot about a job candidate, but there is only so much that can happen within a traditional interview.  For this reason, breakfast or lunch interviews are a common preference in many companies, because it gives the interviewer a chance to see how a candidate conducts themselves in a social setting.  If the job involves entertaining clients, it’s the best way to tell if a potential recruit is a suitable choice to represent the company with class and professionalism.

Here are four smart tips to make a good impression at your next lunch interview:

Check out the restaurant’s menu online.  By reviewing the menu before your appointment, you can make a decision ahead of time.  It will save you the distraction of trying to speed-read your way through the menu, or worse yet, let your nerves get the best of you and appear to be incredibly indecisive.  Choose an entree that you can eat with a knife and fork.  Messy sandwiches, oversized burgers and anything else that is excessively smelly or crunchy should be avoided so you can keep up your professional image from start to finish.

Don’t overcomplicate your order.  Overwhelming your server with questions, substitutions, and a range of food-related allergies will most likely leave your interviewer with a bad impression.  Stick to the menu, keep it simple, and most importantly, use your manners.  Observing how someone interacts with their server can demonstrate a lot about their character, and you can bet that your interviewer is paying close attention. 

Avoid the booze.  It may be tempting to order up a 9 oz beverage of your choice to take the edge off, but resist the urge.  Even if your interviewer is starting happy hour a little early, it’s best to stick to sparkling water or soda to wash down your meal.  Water is always a safe bet, and you may choose to round out your meal with a coffee or tea if it seems appropriate.

Don’t clutter the table with papers.  It’s definitely a good idea to bring a copy of your resume, a letter of reference, and any other relevant documentation, but lunch interviews make it a little more difficult to showcase your bragging rights.  Mention to your interviewer if you have certain documents with you, but wait for their que to bring them out.  It’s generally more acceptable after the plates have been cleared and you have a clean surface to work with.

Whether it’s a lunch interview or normal interview, there are some personality traits that employers love.  You need to know these to maximixe your chances of success.

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