Navigating the lunch interview ritual can be difficult; you must demonstrate that you are poised, intelligent and pleasant, while gracefully eating the food in front of you. Be personable, polite, use your table manners and follow these guidelines for a successful interview.
For starters, obey the rules of a regular job interview: dress appropriately, show up on time, and bring any required paperwork. Being late to any type of job interview is unacceptable, particularly lunch interviews. Odds are the interviewer is meeting with you at lunch because of an already tight schedule. Try to remain upbeat and pleasant during the entire interview. Remember, the interviewer is assessing your skills and your personality to judge whether you’re a fit for the organization and the position.
A job interview held at lunch offers you the chance to show a more personable and social facet of yourself. Let your interviewer lead the conversation. He/she will most likely avoid business discussions until the food has arrived. Be prepared for small talk; ask thoughtful questions, listen to responses, and act attentive. No matter how casual the interview becomes, don’t forget to keep your manners in check: keep your elbows off the table, turn off your cell phone, and do not interrupt if someone is speaking.
Be polite and respectful to the restaurant staff. Let your attitude toward them reflect your professionalism and your ability to get along with others. Order an item that is reasonably priced and easy to eat. Let your interviewer lead the ordering. You do not want to order the most expensive item on the menu nor the least expensive. Let conversation come naturally. Act relaxed, professional and interested in the interviewers conversation lead.
The end of the meal signals the bill. Do not ask for a doggy bag, or bring any food home with you. In most instances, the company you are interviewing with will pay for the meal. Bring cash with you on the lunch interview to prevent any uncomfortable or awkward moments should you need to pay. End the meal with positive sentiment. Shake hands with your host and if he/she paid for the meal be sure to thank him/her.
Send a thank-you mail to your interviewer within a 24 hours of your meeting.