As the recruitment process within a large proportion of businesses changes dramatically, it can be very difficult for a candidate to know what to expect.
There was a time when an interview almost invariably meant only one thing: office, interviewer, desk, & questions.
But not any more. The traditional interview has been pulled, torn, and stuffed into so many non-standard situations that a one size fits all strategy is no longer a possibility.
The introduction of food and drink to an already highly charged and complex discourse has the potential to send your nerves into overdrive, and leaves you open to all manner of possible slip-ups and faux pas.
But it shouldn’t be like that.
Remember, that inviting a candidate to lunch is a fairly strong indication that this is a progressive approach to recruitment, and one which based on getting to know you rather than your CV.
Allow yourself to be flattered by the invitation. Businesses don’t waste money taking ‘no-hopers’ out to dinner; if you have made it to this stage, you can safely assume that the company is genuinely considering adding your to their team.
But, as much as the formality of this interview situation might be significantly less formal than the traditional method, that doesn’t mean that you can afford to let your guard down.
To help ease anxiety and inspire you to ace a lunch interview, here are a few of our top tips that, if considered carefully and acted upon, should see you on the right track.
Don’t let the informality of the situation fool you, you still need to complete comprehensive research on the business and the role. Infact this becomes arguably more important in the case of a lunch interview, because of the conversational direction that the meeting can take- this gives much more opportunity for lack of knowledge / research to become apparent.
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
As was the case above, a lack of formality should not equate to a lack of preparation. You need to make sure that you complete all of the preparation that you would for any standard interview.
Yes, the interviewer might be showing a greater interest in getting to know you as a person, but that doesn’t mean that preparation is any less important than it would otherwise be.
Make sure that you rehearse some of the more commonly asked interview questions such as ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?’, ‘Can you tell me about a time when you demonstrated initiative?’, and ‘What is your greatest weakness?’.
Also be sure to review other standard interview information advice such as ‘how to dress for an interview’, 5 things you should never say in an interview’, and ‘how to make a good first impression in an interview’.
These are all just as relevant now as they have ever been so besure to read them repeatedly so you know what is and isn’t expected.
Mind Your Manners
Table manners inparticular can have a major impact in how you come across in a lunch interview, As rather insulting as it sounds, I have listed the major ones below, because it can often help to repeat these things as a way of preventing an accidental slip into a potentially embarrassing situation.
- Sit up straight (no slouching)
- Use appropriate volume when speaking
- Don’t begin eating until the other person has also been served
- Don’t slurp soup (or wine)
- Keep your elbows of the table
- Give your dining partner plenty of space
- Don’t look at your phone, and certainly don’t use it
- Be courteous to waiting staff
- Don’t use swear words (that’s ‘cuss’ words to the Americans)
- Don’t drop food on your clothing
- Use your napkin for its intended purpose. Unless you are interviewing for a role in an origami shop: then you may fold it into a swan if you please.
Order the correct food
Some foods can inspire such a complete lack of grace that they should never be ordered unless you are 100% comfortable in your ability to eat them with dignity. I am thinking particularly of meat on the bone: ribs, chicken wings, and so forth. But also some less obvious potential offenders include spaghetti, burgers, and pretty much anything that is eaten with the hands.
Unless you are a complete daredevil, these foodstuffs simply carry too great a risk of disaster to be ordered safely.
Then again, the employer might admire your lack of fear, but incase that isn’t the case, we advise you follow the rule ‘when in doubt… leave it out!.