Not only are you being judged on your skills, qualifications and experience, your table manners are being scrutinized, too!

Share story

As if job hunting were not already stressful enough — enter the lunchtime interview. Not only are you being judged on your skills, qualifications and experience, your table manners are being scrutinized, too!

Fret not. You can wow a potential employer and eat a meal at the same time. Here’s how:

1. Dress as for a normal interview.
2. Arrive first. Wait in the lobby, not the bar.
3. Beverages: Your interviewer will let you order first. Consider sparkling water — it’s both grown-up and non-alcoholic.
4. Do not drink from a bottle or through a straw.
5. Entrées: Don’t order the most expensive or the cheapest. Or anything ostentatiously huge, smelly, crunchy or difficult to eat.
6. Do not discuss your food allergies, your weight, or your likes and dislikes.
7. Remember: How you treat servers says a lot about you.
8. If something is a little wrong with your order, let it slide. This meal is not about the food.
9. Break your dinner roll into pieces and eat them one at a time.
10. Don’t eat as if you’re ravenous.
11. Don’t eat too slowly, either. Eat a little slower than your interviewer (a good reason to order something small).
12. Do eat something! Otherwise, you’ll look nervous. Try to finish at least half.
13. Do not ask for a doggie bag.
14. Here’s an advantage of the lunch interview: You can ponder your answers to difficult questions while chewing. Take small bites, so there’s not an awkward interval while your interviewer waits for you to swallow.
15. Dessert: Order one only if the interviewer does.
16. In case Mom failed to mention it: Don’t talk with your mouth full. Don’t put your elbows on the table. Sit up straight. Use a napkin.
17. At the end, don’t wad up the napkin. Fold it loosely and lay it on the table next to your plate.
18. Be graceful about letting the interviewer pick up the tab. You were invited.
19. Don’t forget to mention the meal in your thank-you note.

Bon appetit!

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at wg@karenburnsworkinggirl.com.