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Career Corner
Lunch Interview Tips

Linda Matias -- During a business meal interview, basic interview guidelines still remain in effect. For job search success, you need to focus more on the discussion and your performance and less on the surroundings and food.

Strategically, hiring managers prefer lunch interviews because of the laid-back environment, where interviewees may be less guarded and more likely to reveal information they normally wouldn't in an office setting. Another reason is that the open position may require the incumbent to attend client lunch meetings, and the interviewer wants to gauge the interviewee's dining etiquette. In addition, the candidate's credentials may be impressive and the hiring manager wants to pull out all the stops. In fact, C-suite candidates can expect lunch interviews as a sign of respect.

To perform well during the interview, consider the following points:

Conduct a drive-by:

Go to the restaurant ahead of time to determine whether there are parking issues you should be aware of. Things to look out for include whether the restaurant has private parking, metered parking, or a parking fee.

Check out the menu:

Whether researching online or going inside the restaurant and asking for a menu, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the food options. This way you can make a choice before the interview. That will be one less thing you have to think about during the meeting.

On drinking:

This is a tricky one. Some people will advise never to order an alcoholic beverage, and others will insist that if the interviewer orders one, then so can the interviewee. You'll have to go with your gut feeling on this one. That said, be cognizant of proper manners. If you do have a drink, then have only one.

On dress:

Unless told otherwise, dress as you would for an in-office interview.

Become acquainted with dining etiquette:

This may sound basic, but you will be surprised to learn that many people are not familiar with proper table protocol. From not knowing where to place the napkin to which utensil to use, etiquette gaffes can give an unwanted impression.

Arrive early, but don't get seated:

If the interviewer arrives before you do, it is fine if she gets seated while she waits. However, if you do that, it is bad form. It is best to sit in the waiting area and get seated with the interviewer. If you decide to wait at the bar, order a soft drink and pay for it -- do not allow the bartender to put the drink on the table's tab.


When on a lunch interview, focus more on the discussion and less on the surroundings. That includes your food. You may only have a chance to take a few bites so do not expect to leave the restaurant with a full belly.

Linda Matias is a Nationally Certified Resume Writer who heads Her resume samples, cover letter examples, and career advice are featured in numerous commercially published books with some of the top publishers in the industry. You can contact Linda Matias at or visit her website for additional career advice and to view resume samples.

© 2015 Linda Matias

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