How to Pass a Job Interview Over Lunch

How to Pass a Job Interview Over Lunch
How to Pass a Job Interview Over Lunch

It is increasingly common to relocate a job interview outside of company premises. Recruitment can then take place over lunch in a restaurant. The employer chooses this method for practical reasons, but also to observe the candidate's behavior in society. If you are apprehensive about meeting your future employer in an atypical setting, know that good preparation will help you succeed in your interview.


Part 1 of 4: Prepare for the interview

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Step 1. Locate the locations

If the restaurant has an online site, visit it to learn about the style of establishment, type of cuisine served, price category and contact information. Write down the address and phone number. You can also go directly to the site. This initiative can be more profitable, because the sites do not always reflect reality.

If possible, browse the menu. This will let you know what you can order on the day of the interview without having to dwell on the map. Note that meal costs are generally covered by the company

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Step 2. Plan your trip

Arriving late can be seen as a sign of irresponsibility and neglect. To avoid making a bad impression even before you start the interview, plan your trip ahead. If possible, go to a restaurant so you don't get lost on the day of the interview. Check the timetables and frequency of public transport or the flow of traffic if you are coming by car.

Note that the lunchtime journey may be longer. In addition, if you are traveling by car, you may have difficulty parking. Manage these hazards by planning to arrive early enough

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Step 3. Practice approaching strangers

An interview is a communication exercise. It is therefore important to know how to start and hold a conversation with a stranger. In the weeks leading up to the interview, approach people and if possible, strike up a conversation.

  • Be polite and courteous. Greeting, commenting on the current situation, or giving a compliment can help start a conversation.
  • Start the conversation by taking advantage of your surroundings. For example, if you are in a mall, chat with another customer about your favorite stores.
  • Train daily, especially if you are shy. As the days go by, you will gain more confidence in yourself and be ready to face the recruiter.
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Step 4. Prepare for interview questions

It is essential to anticipate as much as possible the questions you will be asked during the interview. Learn to highlight your qualities, your skills and your professional experience. Prepare arguments that will convince the recruiter that you are the ideal candidate.

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Step 5. Research the business

To judge their motivation and involvement, the recruiter can open the interview by asking the candidate what he knows about the company. Anticipate this question by researching the company beforehand. Find out about its history, organization, activity and recent results. If possible, try to connect with employees of the company to learn more about its culture.

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Step 6. Stay on top of the news

A lunch in a restaurant is an opportunity for informal discussions that can guide the recruiter to your personality. It is not uncommon for the interview to begin or end with a discussion of current affairs, whether general or related to your industry. Stay informed on social, economic, financial, environmental, political and international issues. If possible, follow discussions.

  • Read general news newspapers rather than local editions or the tabloid press. Pay particular attention to topics related to your field of activity such as finance, business, politics or international relations.
  • The day before or the morning of the interview, listen to the radio or watch the news. Indeed, an important event may have taken place and it would be badly perceived not to be able to discuss it.
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Step 7. Choose a professional outfit

The dress code is the same as for a regular interview. The less formal setting of a restaurant, whatever the type, shouldn't make you forget that this is a business meeting.

  • Your clothes should be clean and ironed. Take care of your hairstyle and the condition of your nails. If you are a woman, prefer light makeup.
  • If the recruiter shows up in casual attire, don't be embarrassed. In maintenance, it is always better to opt for clothing that is stricter than everyday, at the risk of appearing neglected.
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Step 8. Bring a copy of your CV and writing stuff

Print an updated version of your CV to cover any recruiter request. Also bring a notebook or notepad and a pen to make sure it works. Nothing is more embarrassing than having faulty hardware!

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Step 9. Be early

Plan about 15 minutes in advance, or more if the traffic is heavy or if you are unfamiliar with the area. Take the opportunity to relax, chat with the restaurant staff and prepare yourself for the interview. Also remember to activate silent mode on your cell phone.

If you arrive before the recruiter, wait for them in a designated room or outside the restaurant. Avoid sitting at the table or bar unless the recruiter has specifically told you they will meet you there

Part 2 of 4: Eat during the interview

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Step 1. Don't choose foods that are strong or difficult to eat

Avoid any food that could get caught between your teeth, grease your fingers, disturb the other person when you chew or get dirty. Do not eat dishes that have a strong smell or that are difficult to eat with cutlery. If you have to shell shrimp during your interview, you risk making a bad impression!

Dishes in sauce such as spaghetti bolognese, heavily seasoned or spicy such as garlic or cheese sauces are to be avoided. Also avoid foods that are crunchy, crispy, or eaten with your fingers, such as burgers and fries. You can have a salad, as long as it does not contain large salad leaves

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Step 2. Choose dishes that are easy to eat

Your interview is not the occasion of a culinary experience! Order a dish that is eaten cleanly and in small bites. This way you won't be distracted by the meal and the recruiter won't be embarrassed. If possible, eat a dish that you are used to eating. For example, you can order a mixed salad, penne pasta or fish in foil.

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Step 3. Don't order the most expensive dish on the menu

Having a steak or a lobster while on the job can be seen as a way of profiting from the business. The recruiter may see it as a lack of respect.

  • If possible, order after the recruiter. Ask him for advice in order to make the right choice in terms of dish and price. In doing so, you relax the atmosphere while showing courtesy.
  • Do not order dessert unless you are expressly instructed to do so by the recruiter.
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Step 4. Don't drink alcohol

Even if the recruiter has a glass of wine, don't follow him. Alcohol can impair your judgment and you risk being unprofessional. In general, it's best to stick with water, still or sparkling, or possibly fruit juice.

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Step 5. Adopt good manners

This is obvious, but you may lose your means because of stress. However, it is essential to behave properly at the table. If this is not the case, the recruiter will analyze it as a lack of good manners and therefore an inability to keep up with the professional world. If the job in question involves contact with clients, it is even more important to be faultless.

You don't have to be overly mannered, either. You just need to follow the most basic good manners. Lay a towel on your lap, don't put your elbows on the table or your hands under the table. Keep your mouth closed when chewing and don't speak with your mouth full. If there is bread on the table, eat it only after serving and break it before taking a bite

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Step 6. Eat at the same speed as the recruiter

Eating too fast or too slowly can betray stress or a lack of self-confidence. Whenever possible, eat at the same speed as the recruiter. This can be difficult because you have to answer the questions at the same time.

  • Don't keep the recruiter waiting by trying to swallow your bite. This may be embarrassing for you and annoy the other person. Take small bites that you can chew and swallow quickly.
  • If the recruiter asks you a complex or important question, you can take the time to put your dishes down while you answer them. This will give you a few seconds to think of a relevant answer.
  • Do not play with the food, as you may appear nervous.

Part 3 of 4: Answering an interview

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Step 1. Know how to move from interview to conversation

A lunch at the restaurant is a setting that lends itself to both professional and private discussions. You must therefore answer both ways, being careful to stay relevant and concise.

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Step 2. Ask questions

Show your interest in the position and your involvement by interviewing your interlocutor. Ideally, the exchange should be fluid. To do this, you can end an answer with a question.

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Step 3. Avoid sensitive topics

Some general hot topics, such as those related to politics or religion, can be sensitive. If the recruiter brings up a sensitive issue, present objective arguments, avoiding personal judgment. If you ask questions about the job or the company, avoid bringing up negative points like recent bad publicity or why your predecessor left the job.

If you need a few seconds to think, take a bite out of your dish and use that time to prepare your answer

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Step 4. Show off

This advice is valid regardless of the interview conditions. Emphasize the reasons that make you the ideal candidate. Show your motivation and interest in the job. Avoid evasive language and be clear and concise.

  • While it is essential to showcase yourself, you should also know how to stay moderate, at the risk of appearing imbued with yourself. Let the recruiter conduct the interview and wait for them to ask you the question before talking to you.
  • If you're dealing with multiple people, respond so that they can judge your response without monopolizing the conversation. Everyone should be able to ask you their questions.
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Step 5. Stay professional at all times

The recruiter may seem very relaxed or ask you questions to make you feel comfortable. Either way, you need to keep a professional attitude. Avoid colloquial language or behavioral twitching. Indeed, you are judged as much on your attitude as on the quality of your answers.

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Step 6. Be polite to the restaurant staff

This is obvious, but stress can make you react rude or even aggressively. Your interactions with staff are also opportunities for the recruiter to observe your behavior in society. This can be fundamental if the position requires strong communication skills.

There is no point in being overly polite. Just thank the waiter when he comes to your table, smile or nod depending on the circumstances. If the waiter has made the wrong dish or if you don't like what you've ordered, be polite and courteous. In reality, such situations are opportunities for you to demonstrate that you can diplomatically resolve a problem

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Step 7. Let the recruiter do the interview

Keep in mind that this is a business meeting. Since you are not necessarily in a strong position, it is important to let your interviewer conduct the interview. Wait for him to ask you his questions, even if you anticipate them. At the end of lunch, the recruiter may end the interview or wish to continue it. Whatever its intention, stick to it.

If the recruiter asks you a question that tends to conclude the interview, answer it clearly without opening. However, if he does offer coffee or tea, it means he wants to continue with the interview and indicates that he is interested in your application

Part 4 of 4: Concluding the interview

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Step 1. Let the recruiter pay the bill

Usually, the company pays for the meal. Be sure to thank the recruiter for this gesture.

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Step 2. Thank the recruiter after the interview

At the end of the interview and when leaving the restaurant, remember to thank the recruiter for their time with you. If possible, repeat your thanks electronically about two days after the interview. This allows you to show that you are still interested in the job without appearing to be impatient.

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Step 3. Find out about the rest of the procedure

Take advantage of your thank you message to request information or confirm elements on the recruitment stages. This indicates that you are motivated and that you have understood what has been said to you.

You can phrase your message as follows: "Sir (or) Madam, following our interview, I would like to thank you for the time you have devoted to me. In addition, I would like to know the next steps in the recruitment procedure and the approximate response time. Looking forward to your return "


  • Activate the silent mode of your cell phone. If you leave it on the table, don't handle it, as it may sound disrespectful.
  • Have confidence in yourself and prepare yourself the best you can to deal with your stress.


  • In most cases, it is inappropriate, if not rude, to ask to take away leftovers, unless the recruiter does or tells you that it is possible to do so.
  • Avoid talking about the day-to-day business of the company unless you are interested in projects that affect the position you are targeting.
  • Even if you are comfortable with the recruiter and the interview is going perfectly, stay in control of your attitude and your words. This is a business lunch, not a meal with friends!

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