Executive positions, sales and even the regular office worker interview can occur over a meal, whether itís breakfast, lunch or dinner. The important fact to remember is that you are not really there to eat; you are there to put your best foot forward and sell the recruiter on the fact that you are the best person for the job. How you handle the meal can make or break a job offer.
Donít order anything which requires finger use or excessive mouth swiping. Your aim is to not drip or dribble over your clothing, paperwork or other important item. Find any food on the menu that can be swallowed quickly, allowing you to carry on a conversation.
Aim for the middle ground. Donít order the most expensive entree on the menu; you donít want to appear greedy. Donít order the least expensive entree because then youíre not being genuine. A middle of the road priced entree will show that youíre comfortable having a luncheon meeting.
Donít order alcohol; not even if the interviewer orders a glass or two. Your aim is to remain sharp and in-control; not comfortable in a state of alcohol relaxation. If the interviewer asks, politely decline. If they become insistent, opt for one glass and leave most of it in the glass. Remember, they may be appearing to be sociable, but they are actually keeping a pretty good eye on you.
Remember your table manners. Keep your elbows off the table. Place your napkin in your lap. Most importantly, chew with your mouth closed. If you need to get up during the meal, politely excuse yourself from the table and wait for a response before moving away.
Carry some of the conversation. Did you forget it was an interview and not a social meal? Do more talking then eating. Your interviewer will probably be eating while you are responding to each question. Put your fork down on your plate, sit up and answer the question. Make sure you do enough talking so that your interviewer can actually eat some of their meal and is not doing all the talking.
Donít ask for a doggy bag. This is not the time to show a potential new boss that you are there to get a free meal. Donít take it home for dinner or share with your spouse. Comment on how delicious the meal was and leave the rest on the table.
While it may be a meal interview, itís not the time to let down your guard. Youíre not out with family and friends; you are trying to impress a potential employer. Itís not about the meal; itís a display of how well you handle yourself in public. If you are unable to conduct yourself professionally in this atmosphere, how can they expect you to behave with clients?