7 Tips for interviewing over Lunch

            So if interviews weren’t nerve racking enough, your interviewer wants to talk over lunch. Now, you’re nervous and have to figure out how to eat while trying to put your best foot forward, but don’t fret. Learning from a top recruiting agency in Grand Rapids, Hunter Judson Sr. and Analisa Blakley from the Judson Group have some helpful advice. These simple tips will help you for your interview.

1.     Don’t worry about the fork

Really, don’t worry about which fork you’re going to use. Most places only have two. One will be for salad and the other for an entrée. They will bring you another fork for dessert, so do not save any utensils.

2.     Eat beforehand

I cannot stress this enough, YOU ARE NOT THERE FOR THE FOOD. Eat beforehand so you’re comfortable with the situation. Order a light meal, take a few bites to be polite and push it around your plate. There’s nothing worse than coming to an interview starving and devouring the meal in front of you. It does not look good.

3.     Do not order anything that you eat with your hands

Eating chicken fingers, a sandwich, or burger can get messy quick.  You want to be seen as a lady or gentleman when eating. Having proper table manners is something that employers will take into consideration when hiring.

4.     Unsure what to order? Ask

If the interviewer says “Order anything you’d like!” Do not do this. Do not order the lobster or dinner sized portion of pasta. Simply ask “What do you suggest?” or “Have you been here before? What’s your favorite?” If all else fails, ask them what they are getting. If they order a chicken dish, be sure to stay in the chicken area. If they order lobster, do not order lobster. Order something simple and vanilla. You are not here for the food; you are here for the interview. Be modest, and polite but worry about what you came here to do.

5.     Eat ridiculously small pieces of food

Cut your food really small. Way, way small. Why? No one wants to awkwardly wait for you to respond to a question. 10 seconds? Sure. But not  five minutes while you’re eating your chewy medium steak. Make it possible for you to consume food here and there but quickly.

6.     Never drink alcohol

Even if they order a drink, never order one for yourself. Some may use that as a crutch and drink too quickly, which could be seen as bad news. It’s just better to order tea, water or diet coke; nothing too fancy. But say the interviewer buys you a beer, or cocktail; politely decline. “I’m sorry, but I’m really interested to talk to you about this position”. If they insist, humbly take it. Do not drink too much. Take sips here and there to be polite but, do not finish it. Move it around the table. Again, you are there for the interview.

7.     Do not get a “To-Go Box”

This wasn’t a free meal, it was an interview. Avoid this issue all together by simply ordering what you know you can eat (fun fact: it’s frowned upon to order in excess in European countries).

Be mindful of the interview. Most of the time employers will ask to interview over a meal because it can reveal a lot about you. Another quick tip; do not double dip. It may sound like a standard no-no, but it has been done. People have not been hired because of it. 

Now go tackle that interview!

Kelsey Juergens