How to Ace a Lunch Interview

Three Methods:Preparing For a Lunch InterviewOrdering Food and EatingMaking a Good Impression

Lunch interviews are a good opportunity for your potential employer to get to know you in a less formal setting and to see your social skills in action. Lunch interviews can be a little nerve-wracking, especially if you've never done one before. This article will give you some good tips on how to prepare for and ace a lunchtime interview; just see Step 1 below to get started.

Method 1
Preparing For a Lunch Interview

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    Understand the motivation behind lunch time interviews. Employers sometimes take job candidates out to lunch or dinner, especially when they are interviewing for jobs that require a good deal of client interaction.
    • These kinds of interviews allow the employer to evaluate a potential candidate's social skills, to assess how they interact with people in a casual environment, and to see how they handle themselves under pressure.
    • Lunchtime interviews can be harder to prepare for than regular interviews, as you have to navigate the practical side of ordering and eating food in addition to answering interview questions and engaging in small talk. However, there are some definite do's and don'ts which you should adhere to.
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    Dress professionally. You should dress for a lunch interview in the same way you would dress for a normal interview - in formal attire. This is true regardless of the location or type of restaurant.
    • Make sure your interview outfit is clean and well-pressed. Make sure your hair and nails are neat. Women shouldn't wear too much make-up.
    • Don't worry if your interviewer is dressed more casually than you are. Remember that it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed when it comes to interviews.
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    Read the menu ahead of time. If you know the name of the restaurant where the interview is being held, make a point of looking up their lunch menu ahead of time. This will give you an idea of the type of food on offer and the range of prices, which should make ordering less stressful and time-consuming on the day.
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    Bring a copy of your resume, paper and pens. Print out an up-to-date version of your resume and pack a bag with paper, pens and any other documents you might need. Your interviewer may not request them during the interview, but it's best to be prepared anyway.
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    Read the newspaper on the morning of your interview. Lunchtime interviews typically involve more chit-chat and small talk than regular interviews, so it's important to be informed about current events and to have a number of interesting stories to tell if called upon. The best way to prepare for this is just to read the newspaper.
    • Read a large-scale, broadsheet newspaper rather than a local or tabloid paper. Pay particular attention to articles or sections of the paper that may be relevant to the job - whether that's finance, business, politics or international relations.
    • You should also listen to or watch the news the night before and morning of the interview. You don't want to be embarrassed by being unaware of any recent important events.
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    Plan your route to the restaurant so you arrive on time. Before the interview, make sure you know exactly how to get to the restaurant and how long it will take you to get there. Planning your route will allow you to arrive at the restaurant early, which is always a good idea for lunchtime interviews.
    • Remember to take lunchtime traffic conditions or public transport schedules into account.
    • If you arrive at the restaurant before your interviewer, wait for them in the waiting area, lobby, or just outside. Avoid waiting at the table.

Method 2
Ordering Food and Eating

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    Avoid ordering messy or strong-smelling foods. It's important to order carefully at a lunchtime interview. You want to avoid ordering messy or strong-smelling foods, as these can be awkward to eat and off-putting for the interviewer.
    • Avoid foods that contain large amounts of garlic or onions, as these often have a very strong odor. Avoid messy foods like spaghetti, burgers loaded with condiments, messy sandwiches, large-leafed salads, greasy French fries, and foods that are overly loud and crunchy.
    • Instead, choose foods that are neat and easy to eat in small bites, like a chopped salad, penne pasta or fish.
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    Don't order the most expensive items on the menu. Avoid ordering the most expensive items on the menu, such as steak or lobster (unless your interviewer insists), as this may be perceived as taking advantage of the company credit card, which will not produce a favorable result.
    • However, this does not mean that you need to order the cheapest item on the menu either. You should feel free to order whatever you like, within reason, and show your potential employer that your are comfortable and confident in a restaurant setting.
    • You should refrain from ordering dessert unless your interviewer orders it first.
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    Stay away from alcoholic beverages. In general, it is best to stay away from alcoholic beverages during lunchtime interviews, even if your interviewer is drinking. Alcohol can lower your inhibitions and cause you to speak or behave in a way that is less than professional. This does not mean you have to stick with water - order a soda or an iced tea instead.
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    Display good table manners. It is highly important that you display good table manners throughout your lunchtime interview. Poor table manners can be very off-putting for an employer, as it tells them that you cannot handle yourself in a professional setting.
    • Go back to basics - remember to place your napkin on your lap, keep your elbows off the table, keep your mouth closed while chewing and avoid talking while eating.
    • For more information on good table manners, see this article.
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    Try to eat at the same speed as your interviewer. Try to match your eating pace with the interviewer's - avoid eating too quickly or too slowly. This can be tricky, as you will probably be talking a lot and answering many questions over the course of the lunch.
    • Avoid making the interviewer wait for an answer as you struggle to chew and swallow a large bite. Take small bites that you can eat quickly and easily.
    • If your interview asks a complex or important question, consider putting your knife and fork aside for a minute or two while you take the time to answer.

Method 3
Making a Good Impression

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    Engage in interesting conversation. Interviews are a good way to find out more about the employer, while at the same time making them aware that you are an ideal choice for them. One of the best ways to do this is to engage in a stimulating and interesting conversation where you show off your intelligence, your thoughtfulness and your ability to listen.
    • If possible, avoid getting into controversial issues. However, sometimes the employer will deliberately bring up tricky topics just to see how you handle them. In this situation, make sure to think before you speak so you can express your point of view clearly, without coming across as judgmental.
    • Use facts and figures to back up your ideas as much as possible and avoid getting into an argument. Make sure to ask the employer for his/her view on the matter and listen carefully to their answer.
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    Behave as professionally as possible throughout the interview. You should be careful when dealing with an overly-friendly interviewer. Regardless of how informal they are with you, you should make an effort to behave professionally. No matter how casual or friendly they are, they are still judging your behavior, so don't say or do anything risky.
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    Be polite to the waiting staff. As mentioned before, your interviewer will be watching you closely to observe your social skills, and this includes your interactions with the waiting staff. Therefore, it's important polite and courteous to your waiter.
    • A simple thank you or a nod or smile to the staff whenever they take your order, bring your food and clear your dishes can go a long way to prove that you are polite and have good social skills. Being rude to the waiters is one of the singer greatest blunders you can make in a lunchtime interview.
    • Even if you are served a wrong dish or you do not like what you have ordered, try to go with the flow. Do not be harsh with the staff - instead, politely let them know and request a new dish.
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    Follow the interviewer's lead. While you are engaged in a conversation with the interviewer, be aware of whether they sound interested in continuing the conversation after the lunch or if they are keen to end it immediately after the meal.
    • If the interviewer asks you for any final questions, it is time to wrap up. However, if the interviewer wishes to continue their discussion further over a cup of tea or coffee, you need to show your enthusiasm and follow suit.
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    Send a thank you note once the lunch is over. Following the interview, remember to send the employer a note to thank them for their time and for the lunch. This can usually be done via email, and should be sent within 48 hours following the interview.


  • Be sure to turn off your mobile phone even if the interviewer keeps checking his or hers frequently.
  • Be bold and confident.


  • In most cases, it is inappropriate to ask for a doggy bag to take the rest of your food home, however, it's important to judge the situation and follow the lead of your interviewer.

Article Info

Categories: Interview Skills