Human Resources consultant Scott C. Maxwell says it’s quite a good sign to score a lunch interview because the atmosphere is inherently casual and will naturally put you at ease.
“The more relaxed atmosphere is a sign that you’re closer to the job,” writes Maxwell in his article How to Master a Lunch Interview.
Most experts agree that while a lunch (breakfast, dinner, or even coffee shop) interview is a more relaxed atmosphere than in the office, it usually means that the interviewer is evaluating you in a different way. Sometimes a potential employer will schedule a second interview at a restaurant is to get a glimpse at your social skills.
“Taking you to [lunch] provides the interviewer with a chance to check out your communication and interpersonal skills, as well as your table manners, in a more casual environment than an office setting,” according to Alison Doyle.
There are a number of common rules for dining interviews.
The cardinal rule is that no matter how relaxed you may feel, you are still on an interview. Everything else should fall into place if you follow that rule, says Doyle, who details some of the other rules in her article Job Interview Tip – Interview while Dining.
- Dress Professional
- Mind Your Manners – it is especially important to be polite to the staff.
- Engage in Conversation
The Big Drink Question?
There are a number of conflicting schools of thought when it comes to should you or shouldn’t you drink during a dining interview. Some, like Karen Burns , author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, says absolutely not: “Avoid the booze. Consider sparkling water.”
While Doyle admits that it could be awkward if the interviewer orders a bottle of wine and you simply refuse to drink a glass. You’ll have to use your judgment
Again, the general rule is not to have more than one of whatever it is you choose to drink (barring water.)
An interview's sole purpose is to gauge your worthiness for a position, whether it is in an office or at a restaurant or coffee shop.
"Never imagine lunch interview to be just a case of table manners. You need to show case your intelligence. It’s probably the coordination of your graceful movements along with your intelligence and table manners, says Bizcovering.com's career columnist Rajiv Sighamony in Great Tips for a Lunch Interview.
Ultimately your lunch interview fate has less to do with what you put in your mouth, and more to do with what comes out.