Friday, January 25, 2013

The Lunch Interview - Strategies and Tips

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You might be thinking, what could be so horrible about having an interview during lunch. After all, you usually eat lunch at that time; besides you will be hungry and might be taken to a great restaurant. My recommendation would be, if at all possible, avoid scheduling an interview during lunch time. Participating in an interview over lunch can be an accident just waiting to happen. This may be a second or third interview which means you are close to getting you dream job, and you do not want to do anything that might take points away from you.

How can you loose points while having and interview over lunch? Let's start with table manners. Remember you are dinning out. Don't forget to place the napkin in your lap. Which fork do you use first? You work from the outside of your table setting inward to your plate. Ask for table items out of your immediate reach like the butter and salt to be passed to you, never reach for them. Remember you are on stage, it is a performance and you are being observed throughout the entire process. Be careful when you are passing table items that you do not get your sleeve in your food. When you are finished with your meal did you place your knife across the top of the plate as a signal to the waiter that you are done? All of this and we have not even addressed the interview part of the lunch. The stress of this performance might be so great that in your nervousness that you might spill a glass of water on your potential boss. This is a position that you can not recover from. I also suggest that you refrain from drinking any type of alcoholic beverage, remember you are on an interview and you do not want to be caught off guard.

What are the key aspects of an interview that make having lunch at the same time so challenging? During a regular interview you are focused on the person asking questions and tuned in to the nuances of their eye contact, body language and facial expressions. During a meal you are focused on the meal and how good or poor the food tastes. In an interview setting you are expected to talk, during a meal it is impolite to speak with your mouth full of food. This is where the problem begins. Not to answer right away is impolite too. So what should you do? Avoid being caught in that situation. Schedule your interview for 10:00 AM so you miss the morning rush, or 3:00 PM so you limit the possibility of having a late lunch.

What do you do if you have no other choice and have to attend an interview over lunch? Order appetizers or small portions and eat small bits of food at a time. This will help you be prepared to answer a question and keeps the conversation going without there being a long pause while you are trying to swallow your food. In addition, you do not want to eat anything that has a lot of sauce that might find its way to your clothing, like spaghetti or pizza. Remember you are here on an interview not a lunch date. Your every move will be watched, your table manners in this type of situation is crucial. Being on an interview is stressful enough with out the added pressure of eating lunch under a microscope. Avoid the lunch interview at all cost. You will feel better and perform much better in your next interview if you do.

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