I know that I’ve already written about JobDash, but I have to bring it up again because I have some exciting news: I have officially accepted a job offer! I could not be more thankful to have randomly stumbled across JobDash. It seriously shaped my entire job search, and I would encourage anyone who is currently dealing with the stressful (and insanely frustrating) job search process to give it a try. You won’t regret it! (Seriously, go try it out.)
Besides wanting to shout to the mountaintops that I am finally employed, I’m writing this post to highlight a step in the job search process about which the information on the Internet is seriously lacking: lunch interviews!
Two weeks ago as I was frantically preparing for my third interview with the company that now employs me, I realized that there was so little online regarding this unique type of interview. I checked Pinterest, scanned the blogosphere, Googled every combination of “lunch” and “interview” and “tips” that I could imagine, but nothing with any substance came up. Now, since I’ve finally landed the job, I feel like I can share my ideas about the dreaded lunch interview without seeming like a complete poser.
1. Do your research (on more than just the company)
Assuming lunch would be your second or third interview for a company, you should have already done tons of research into the company, its goals and mission statement, the specific job you’re applying for, etc. Check back over your notes from the previous interview(s), and you should be fine. However, your research isn’t done yet! The moment I learned where we’d be eating, I looked up the restaurant and found a menu online. By having an idea of what I would order, I was able to spend less time looking over the menu and had more attention to give to my interviewers’ introductions.
2. Get acquainted with your interviewers… beforehand
We live in the age of social media. If you know the name(s) of your interviewer(s), there is no excuse to not creep on them… in the best way possible, of course. Look them up on LinkedIn, and brainstorm any connections between yourself and him or her. Your research could be especially helpful if you’re being interviewed by multiple individuals. You can already have some questions ready for each person.
3. Manners, manners, manners
Remember all of those obnoxious things that your mother used to tell you over and over again? “Keep your elbows off the table!” “No slurping!” “Don’t speak with your mouth full!” “Cut your food into bite-sized pieces!” You will never be more thankful for your parents’ incessant harping as during a lunch interview. No one wants to hire someone to represent a company if the person can’t practice good table manners and eating habits. It’s just a fact.
4. Make an effort to engage with each interviewer
Chances are your interviewers will have specific questions that they each want you to answer. However, people have different personalities, and it’s definitely possible that one will be more talkative while another will be happy listening to your conversation. That’s great because it is more than likely the usual way of doing business and will give you a very real idea of your potential workplace environment. That being said, don’t risk ignoring one interviewer for the others. Make sure to listen attentively to each one and try to ask at least one question of the quieter interviewer. You want to make a good impression on each person. After all, these could be your future coworkers!
5. Maintain a professional and authentic demeanor throughout the interview
Don’t let the good Mexican food and casual restaurant environment fool you. A lunch interview is still an interview! While it is a good idea to follow the interviewers’ lead, don’t become so familiar that you act inappropriately or cause discomfort. Never get too comfortable and discuss any unprofessional topics (During sorority recruitment, we called them the 5 B’s: booze; boys; bucks [money]; Barack [politics]; and Bible [religion] Of course, this is a job interview, and these subjects could be brought up and may be completely relevant. Proceed accordingly [and carefully]!) On the other hand, don’t try to emulate someone that you aren’t. Interviewers can generally detect bullshit from a mile away. Just be yourself! (Isn’t that the most important thing anyway?)
6. Steer the conversation if there’s something you want to get across
At times, there will be lulls in the conversation, and that’s okay! Use it to your advantage. Bring up an experience that highlights why you would be a good choice for the position, reference something from an earlier interview, voice how much you want the job… The trick to steering the conversation is subtlety. Don’t blurt something out the second the interviewer stops talking! Take a beat, ease into a different topic or idea, and tell them what you’ve been itching to get across.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
While this interview isn’t casual by any means, it is probably the least formal of any interview that you have had or will have. Use this time to get to know your potential coworkers and ask them questions about their jobs. Forcing them to ask all of the questions brings the lunch interview closer in line with the formal interviews that you’ve already sweated through and further away from the mutual dialogue that you want it to be!
Have you recently been part of a lunch interview? Do you agree with my thoughts, or did you have a completely different experience?
P.S. Don’t forget to check out my other resources for young professionals!