INTERVIEWS / NOV. 29, 2013
version 5, draft 5

How to Survive a Meal Interview!

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Preparing for an interview is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is essential that you are completely ready for the day and have everything you need in place to ensure that you are confident and ready for the interview.

However, what happens when a potential employer suggests a job interview over a meal? More and more recruiters and hiring managers are suggesting job interviews over lunch. Are they the ideal way to relax the candidate and bring out the best in them or just another evil recruiter trick?

Job interviews are nerve-wracking enough but an interview over a meal, hell no! Meal interviews should be approached much the same way as a standard job interview. You are expected to arrive in good time, be well presented and fully prepared. If you think it will be a walk in the park then you are wrong, remember they might even be looking to see how you act in a more relaxed setting, so stay alert.

How to prepare for a meal interview

As soon as you discover that you will be attending a meal interview, begin the necessary preparations. Find out in advance which restaurant you are going to and exactly where it is situated. Browse the menu and select in advance a couple of dishes that you might order. The last thing you want is to come across as fussy and indecisive by spending ages browsing through the menu.

In addition, be selective about what you are going to order. Don’t go for messy spaghetti dishes or a brimming sandwich. Avoid alcohol at all costs. You are at a job interview after all, and not in a causal, laid-back setting. This is of course unless they are expecting you to go for Brandy and Cigars afterwards. Some company’s want to have someone who likes the finer things in life or someone who knows their wines. After all, there are still a lot of jobs that are still old boys’ clubs really.

Other factors to bear in mind

Learn everything there is to know about the company. Unfortunately, in a meal interview you might not have access to your notes. Spend time beforehand outlining the key points that you wish to get across to the employer, and any key questions that you wish to ask.

Remember your behavior is being assessed from the get-go, so play smart by making the right moves. Remain polite and friendly throughout and keep in mind table manners such as keeping your elbows off the table and saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Remember to use your napkin and place it beside your plate to indicate that you have finished!

Finally...

Relax. You are there to sell yourself, demonstrate your skills and shine through. If you are not relaxed you will not be able to convey your personality in a more informal setting. But just remember to always assume that the interview is part of a wider scheme by the recruiter to try and trick you. Always assume the worst and you won’t  be surprised very often. You even have to be careful of how you use the salt. Some U.S. Companies will decide whether or not to hire a candidate based on how you use the salt. If the person uses the salt without tasting their food first, then they question their decision-making skills. A ridiculous test but it is actually is used. So relax, prepare, but also beware!

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