June 27, 2013
19 tips for acing the lunch interview
As if job hunting were not already stressful enough -- enter the lunchtime interview. Not only are you being judged on your skills, qualifications and experience, your table manners are being scrutinized, too!
Fret not. You can wow a potential employer and eat a meal at the same time. Here's how:
1. Dress as for a normal interview.
2. Arrive first. Wait in the lobby, not the bar.
3. Beverages: Your interviewer will let you order first. Consider sparkling water -- it's both grown-up and non-alcoholic.
4. Do not drink from a bottle or through a straw.
5. Entrées: Don't order the most expensive or the cheapest. Or anything ostentatiously huge, smelly, crunchy or difficult to eat.
6. Do not discuss your food allergies, your weight, or your likes and dislikes.
7. Remember: How you treat servers says a lot about you.
8. If something is a little wrong with your order, let it slide. This meal is not about the food.
9. Break your dinner roll into pieces and eat them one at a time.
10. Don't eat as if you're ravenous.
11. Don't eat too slowly, either. Eat a little slower than your interviewer (a good reason to order something small).
12. Do eat something! Otherwise, you'll look nervous. Try to finish at least half.
13. Do not ask for a doggie bag.
14. Here's an advantage of the lunch interview: You can ponder your answers to difficult questions while chewing. Take small bites, so there's not an awkward interval while your interviewer waits for you to swallow.
15. Dessert: Order one only if the interviewer does.
16. In case Mom failed to mention it: Don't talk with your mouth full. Don't put your elbows on the table. Sit up straight. Use a napkin.
17. At the end, don't wad up the napkin. Fold it loosely and lay it on the table next to your plate.
18. Be graceful about letting the interviewer pick up the tab. You were invited.
19. Don't forget to mention the meal in your thank-you note.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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