Before the Interview
If the restaurant or location is unfamiliar, do your research to know what to expect. Continue doing research about the company and your prospective boss at the same time. Looking for the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile is a good start. Bring a pen and paper to list down all important points, together with copies of your resume and work portfolios.
Arriving at the Restaurant
Be prompt and arrive at least 15 minutes early to the interview. Put your mobile phone on vibrate and wait for your prospective boss to arrive. Do not order an alcoholic drink, even if the interviewer chooses to visit the bar area.
Follow the interviewer to your table and place the napkin on your lap. Leave the napkin on your chair in case you need to go out or use the restroom. Keep your elbows off the table while sitting up straight. Do not attempt to answer questions with your mouth full.
Placing an Order
Order something light to make it easier to converse. Avoid ordering messy foods that will prevent you from taking small bites. Remember that the interviewer will be evaluating you from start to finish. Be courteous and polite with the server at all times. Stop yourself from ordering an alcoholic beverage even if your recruiter has one. You need to keep your mind in focus, and drinking alcohol would definitely be of no help.
During the Meal
Brush up on your table etiquette, regardless of whether it’s an upscale restaurant. Use glasses that are set to your right, and use your fork and spoons from the outside in. Sharing foods with multiple interviewers should be served by the person closest to the dish from left to right. Do not start eating until everyone has been served.
During the Interview
Going to the interview over a mealtime is a great opportunity to sell yourself to the recruiter. Talk about why you want to work for them, and relate your skills to core competencies that would make you the perfect candidate for the job. Always have a list of questions to ask to learn more about the company and allow you to take bites of your food. It is recommended to find common interests and avoid topics related to religion and politics.
The bill should always be picked up by the employer. Show appreciation by thanking them for the meal and their time. Ask for a business card to be able to send a thank-you note and express your interest in the job.
As you can see, there’s no need to make a mess of a mealtime interview. Enjoy your meal, and hopefully your next job.