Tackling the Menu During a Lunch Interview

Imagine this: you’re seated on the deck of an outdoor restaurant across from the guy, or girl, that you’ve been incapable of keeping your eyes off of since that first day of sociology class. The waiter comes and serves you your garlic-y salad and spaghetti and meatballs – your breath now reeks of garlic and you managed to get spaghetti sauce all over your shirt. Disaster, right? Your date may be a little turned off by your less than minty fresh breath and call it an early night. Moral of the story? There are certain things you simply do not order while on a date.

The same is true for job interviews. Just like the impact of the first date, like it or not, the impression you make on a possible future employer over lunch will affect whether you get the job, or not. A lot of interviews are conducted over the phone or Skype, if you’re lucky enough to get an in-person interview or even better, a lunch interview, read these tips to make sure a simple mistake doesn’t leave a lasting negative impression.

1. Prices: This is something I personally do whenever someone is treating me to a meal – whether it be a family member, a date, a boss, or a prospective future employer; let them order first and pick something less expensive, or equal in price, to their order. They may not even care or notice this gesture, but when the bill comes you don’t want your meal to be running up the price just in case.

2. Salad: It may seem like a healthy, sensible option, but large leaves of lettuce can be difficult to eat. There’s also the possibility of it getting stuck in your teeth – not a good look.

3. Soup: Simple, it drips.

4. Greasy finger food: Tearing food apart with your fingers does not exactly illustrate a professional manner and gets messy very quickly. Wings are a definite NO!

5. Spaghetti: My favorite meal, but unless you’re trying for a Lady and the Tramp vibe, simply avoid it. Getting it neatly on the fork, and safely in your mouth is not easy – and the sauce is too drippy to chance.

6. Hamburgers: Again, too messy. Who doesn’t love a juicy cheeseburger topped with ketchup, pickles, onions, tomatoes and all the works, but along with that mouth-watering sensation at the thought, I’m also picturing ketchup all over my face and outfit.

7. Steak, and anything else hard to chew: Although it may give you an extra few seconds to think of the perfect answer to his/her question, those few seconds while you’re attempting to chew that juicy steak will feel like five very awkward minutes.

What’s left on the menu? No-swirl pasta, knife and fork food, like fish, chicken, or casseroles. Or, if you’re starving for salad, chopped salad is safer than regular salad.

Other tips

  • Avoid anything with garlic, or a lot of onion. Bring mints just in case!
  • Don’t order dessert unless they do – they probably have somewhere to get to.

Have any other tips, or do’s and dont’s? We’d love to hear them!

2 Responses to “Tackling the Menu During a Lunch Interview”
  1. teflbadger says:

    Cool article. Especially agree with price. Some may not care as it may be on expenses but there’s an underlying value of modesty by deliberately ordering cheaper than your interviewer that can only be seen as a good thing. On the other hand (from the limited lunch meetings I’ve had) it can also be off-putting what the other person orders. It’s kinda tricky trying to impress a human walrus with beansprouts sticking out of their mouth. Maybe it was a type of test. Maybe I was not supposed to respond by balancing a cherry tomato on my nose like a baby seal………….

  2. Great post! Being on a lunch interview is awkward enough so it is important to order something that is easy to eat. I find that when I go on lunch interviews I rarely eat as much as I want to because I am stuck talking, so you shouldn’t order something that will get cold fast (like fish).

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