Etiquette 101: Getting Hired Over Lunch.

An instant career killer that may cost you a paycheck?  Inappropriate behaviors that may be deal-breakers during a job interview over lunch.

In a highly competitive job market many job seekers are invited to an interview lunch; the interview is actually conducted over a meal. This tactic separates equally matched candidates from the competition and may come at a high price; getting hired.

Dining Image

Silver Platter Hiring.

Useful tips to kick-start a successful job interview over lunch:

Show up on time and at the correct location. Be sure to map out your route if going to an unfamiliar location. BE ON TIME. Heads up! Some hiring managers select a difficult location and have used this tactic to challenge and determine the ability of a job seeker to navigate effectively.

Tip:  When possible, drive by the restaurant the night before and scope out the area; avoid getting “lost” and have a plan for parking, projected mishaps or construction delays.

Unable to resist that piece of gum? Gum chewing becomes an issue when you do not know what to do with that sticky glob once seated at the table before serious discussion. Additionally, the hiring manager or recruiter may face Chiclephobia (The fear of chewing gum.), just ask Oprah Winfrey, no one was allowed to chew gum in her studio when she was a talk show host.

Tip: Opt for mints.

Waving, pointing, or flailing the silver? When engaged in conversation do not wield the knife and fork around as you are speaking. This creates a distraction and is seen as unprofessional.

Tip:  Never, never, never, lick the last bits of mashed potato or other delight from the blade of the knife, at the table, during the job interview (or any other time, for that matter…).

Do you salt or pepper your meal before taking a bite? Think again. This action has been known to send a non-verbal message of making hasty or rash decisions and could cost you that job. Why? You “assumed” the meal needed salt or pepper prior to tasting.

Tip:  Always sample a small bite before adding salt or pepper. In addition, use caution when dousing ketchup, dipping sauces or other condiments to a meal, it may send off a “red flag” and can be seen as an insult to the chef.

Remember, you were not invited to the meal because you are hungry!   Avoid ordering expensive menu items, finger foods and difficult to manage items (ribs, lobster, fried chicken, spaghetti, etc.). Also, if a food item is difficult to eat, you spend more effort on eating the meal and less on building rapport with emphasis on the main mission; GETTING HIRED.

Tip: A salad may be cumbersome, not all leafy greens are cut into bite size pieces; opt for the soup instead.

Avoid alcohol. Alcohol inhibits the ability to recall important details, impairs the ability to remember names (especially in a networking setting), may cause improper conversations to emerge, and is not advisable when being considered for a job.

Tip:  Sparking water and a lime make a good substitute.

The purpose of the interview lunch? To determine your social savvy.  Many times this form of interview is one of THE determining factors in hiring.

Tip:  You are an extension of the company brand when hired; demonstrating good manners set you apart from the competition. It is NOT about the food; it is about the relationship building process and “how to be” may determine “cultural fit” depending on the industry and/or position you are seeking.

These are just a few dining etiquette fundamentals and if traveling abroad be sure to research each culture and the differences when conducting business or a job interview over a lunch or a meal.  Good luck!

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