Okay, the fact that you were asked to attend a “lunch interview” is a sign that the boss or manager already approves of you. If you have been in a formal office interview with the same firm and then received the call for the lunch meeting, it is a very clear indication that you are a strong candidate. So, is this lunch a “make it or break it” issue?
Yes, it most certainly is, and that means that the best etiquette possible is going to be required.
Now, by lunch interview etiquette, we don’t mean which spoons to use with the soup and if you can cut your chicken with a fork and knife…what we mean is simple – how do you conduct yourself in order to make the right impression.
For example, do you order anything you want or limit it to a dish that is not too expensive? Obviously, if you have been invited to this meal it is going to be something that is paid for by the company. This indicates that you want to keep expenses to a minimum without being too obvious. Our recommendation? Pick something from the identified specials that is not too messy or too large.
So, you understand that the “meal” is more about the conversation than the food…right? That’s another major issue to keep in mind. You may be meeting for a bite to eat, but what the boss or manager is really doing is trying to “get a feel” for you as an everyday person. When you meet someone in the formal setting of an office it can often be quite an impediment to seeing them as they really are, but when seated across a dining table, things have a way of losing their rigidity and formality.
This also means that the conversation is bound to be radically different. This is a time to keep a firm hold on your tongue. However, because this might be the moment when you botch things by falling into a conversation about “taboo” issues. What do we mean? Well, just as you will want to keep political views off of your professional networking sites (unless you work in politics) you don’t want a luncheon conversation to turn into a personal platform or “soapbox” moment.
Instead, spend a bit of time in advance of the luncheon thinking about the subjects that will help to move the conversation along comfortably. If you can find topics that relate to professional experiences or interesting facts about your work history…all the better!