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What should you eat at a lunch interview?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by BaileyCatts, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. BaileyCatts

    BaileyCatts Well-Known Member

    I have an interview at 12:15p on Friday, and it just occurred to me that, uhm, its lunch hour and I wonder if the dude plans on making this over lunch? I worked at this company many years ago as a co-op, so I know the cafeteria is right inside the door I am entering at, plus there is a sit-down service style cafe where managers take lunch meetings. If, on the off chance, that this ends up talking over lunch, what kind of food should I eat? Is a simple sandwich okay? How about if they have a salad bar and make a small salad? Lord I hope it is not! I totally cannot eat and talk! :wuzrobbed

    Plus this complex is HUGE, and I know the buildings I will be escorted to for next interview, then next, then 4th. Its a LOT of walking just between buildings! What the heck do you talk about during all the walking, whether it be the manager or someone sent to pick me up? I suck at small talk! :scream:
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2011
  2. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

    Nothing with parsley or something that would stick to your teeth. I like creamy soups. Too much broth equals possible drips. I like sandwiches as long as they aren't huge stacks that are wider than my mouth.
  3. Prancer

    Prancer Strong and stable Staff Member

    Salads are terrible choices, IMO--they require a lot of chewing, things stick to your teeth, and if you drip dressing, you have a big, greasy blotch on your clothes. Not that I have experienced this personally, mind you :shuffle:

    Wraps are also very bad for sticking to teeth, as is squishy sandwich bread.

    Pick something that is easy to chew and can be eaten in tiny bites without a lot of mess.
  4. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

    If you eat a sandwich, you will probably end up with bread between your teeth. Depending on the type of bread, there can also be lots of crumbs. Soup gets my vote, too. :)
  5. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

    A big rack of juicy spareribs. ;)

    Good luck.
  6. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    Don't have spaghetti. She says from experience.

    I think soup is okay but a slab of meat and veggies is almost always the easiest to eat in public for me.
  7. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    No beans.

    Imagine it's a first date, which mean that you'll eat almost nothing :lol:. Order something simple and not likely to leave a mess while eating.

    Try to make small talk about the company, what the work environment is like, the people, how he likes the job, etc. Tell him how how your morning has been, what you've liked about the company so far, etc. Sure you've already asked those same questions to the other interviewers that you've met before him, but it doesn't hurt to ask him those same questions again just to get the conversations flowing. I think also sometimes the interview relaxes during lunch interview and will ask you about your hobbies, interests outside of work, etc.

    Just take a deep breath. You'll survive :) Good luck.
  8. Prancer

    Prancer Strong and stable Staff Member

  9. genegri

    genegri Active Member

    I suggest you eat something before hand so you won't go hungry even if there is no lunch. Besides if you are not hungry you will be free to order anything small, polite and inexpensive.

    I hate business lunches or dinners too but I have attend a lot of them. In fact, yesterday, today AND tomorrow. And Holiday season hasn't officially started yet. :( One thing I've learned is nothing drippy, smelly or loud. Make sure it's something can be handled easily with knife and fork.

    Anyway, good luck!
  10. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

    A granola bar, or just a juice/milk/coffee. You could politely say you generally skip lunch.
  11. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Hit ball, find ball, hit it again.

    Anything that doesn't require a lot of manipulation. Gnocchi works in an Italian place. Scallops in a fish place. A basic stir fry if going Asian. The way I decide is to find the thing that I can get from the plate to my mouth with minimal fuss that requires minimum chewing.

    As for the walking and talking, how about how the complex has or hasn't changed since the last time you were there?
  12. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    It the interview is meant to be a lunch interview then I think you will leave the interviewer at an awkward position if you decline lunch.
    Prancer and (deleted member) like this.
  13. Holley Calmes

    Holley Calmes Well-Known Member

    If you're in that type of restaurant, a thin slab of meatloaf and mashed potatoes are less likely to stick to your teeth or drip on your clothes. They are also soft and more quickly chewed up and swallowed for quick replies to questions. Hold the gravy, though.
  14. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    This would be very awkward. If a lunch interview, to be polite, you eat lunch.

    As others have recommended, pick something that won't cause you to get mess on your clothing or things stuck in your teeth, and which is easy to eat in front of polite company. Then eat it, so you don't make your interviewer feel like an ass, because he's 1) probably starving and 2) psyched to get lunch on the company's tab. ;)

    For clues as to what to select, I often pay some attention to what my interviewer is getting. If he's getting only coffee and a roll, I'll also get something snack-like. If he's going for a sandwich, I'll pick something similar. If he's loading down his tray, I might order something hot.
  15. mikey

    mikey ...an acquired taste

    This comes off as somewhat anti-social to me.

    I vote for a small salad, or a small sandwich.
  16. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    I like the ideas for food that have been suggested, but part of a lunch interview IME is seeing the candidate's behaviour.

    So no matter what you eat, don't do things like
    - grabbing a bun out of the bread basket without offering it to others at the table first
    - talking while you're chewing
    - slurping your drinks
    - wolfing down your food like you've never eaten before and never will again
    - being rude or snotty to the waiter
    - ordering something $$$$ if everyone else is having something inexpensive
    - ordering a lot of extras on your meal (e.g. added ingredients, desserts, extra-size servings) unless you're specifically invited to
    - ordering an alcoholic drink (even if everyone else does)
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2011
  17. Bostonfan

    Bostonfan Well-Known Member

    I concur with the meatloaf (sans gravy) idea. Or a simple chicken cutlet type meal. Anything you can control with a knife and fork that isn't messy. I'm not comfortable with the idea of eating a sandwich with my hands in a business setting. I don't know why. Maybe it's an OCD thing.
  18. DustPuppyOI

    DustPuppyOI Well-Known Member

    An acquaintance swore that he always order chicken parmagiana. It was the only dish he could eat without mishaps.

    Oh and can someone enlighten me on how to properly eat penne? Do you spear it in the middle or do you slot it between the fork tines?
  19. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Hit ball, find ball, hit it again.

    I spear it, as does my hubby's Italian family.
  20. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins Well-Known Member

    I had a lunchtime interview once where the interviewer ate lunch at his desk while conducting the interview, because he was running late that day with meetings. It was the most awkward situation. He offered me some chips and a water bottle, but his open-mouth chewing made me squeamish, so I declined. Couldn't wait to get out of there and never sent a thank you note.

    The guy might not invite you to lunch, it might be a quick check just to see if you have two heads, then pass you off to someone else, so don't go hungry.

    Have a small salad or something you can eat with a knife and fork. "Short" pasta dishes, like ziti or rigatoni, are okay, "long" pastas are a disaster. (Short and Long are my late MIL's terms.) Nothing hand-held or messy.

    Cream soup is a good idea, if it agrees with you. (I'm not that fortunate - travel with Lactaid pills for milk-based foods.) Never thought about cream soups controlling drips vs. broth-based soups. Good tip!
  21. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    I'm with Japanfan on this. BaileyCatts said that she didn't know if it was a lunch interview, just wondered about the time. That gives her the option to say "I didn't realize we were going to lunch, so I ate before I arrived. Please do go ahead though, and I just have a cup of tea."

    I think the chance that the person doesn't want to eat alone is one I'd take against the risk of trying to focus on an interview while eating and all the potential land mines that come with that.
  22. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    It's best just to ask HR if a lunch interview will be involved if the scheduled interview time is around lunch time.

    I've done an all day interview where I was shuttered from one person to the next from 9 until 3. In that situation there was no possible way to get out of a lunch interview gracefully, since it was planned.
  23. Southpaw

    Southpaw Saint Smugpawski

    Stay away from hard-shell tacos and clams on the half-shell!
    PeterG and (deleted member) like this.
  24. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

    I'm late to the conversation, but I suspect a 12:15 interview is not considered a lunch interview, but one of scheduling convenience. Particularly if this was an interview that was scheduled within the last week.

    I would find it rather odd to have a lunch interview as the first screening interview. Perhaps on a second or third call back when being interviewed by the work team, but the initial interview no.

    Salads, chips,sandwiches and meat/chicken of any sort requires extended chewing making it difficult to talk. Soups make a slurping sound and the great potential for spilling. I agree with whoever said that you should indicate that you have eaten prior to the interview, but a cup of tea/coffee or water would be nice type of response.
  25. Bostonfan

    Bostonfan Well-Known Member

    I just re-read the original post. I thought you knew for sure if they were proposing to have the interview over lunch. That happens occasionally during a 2nd interview when the manager making the final decision wants to get to know a finalist in a more relaxed environment. Now in reading your post again, you are making assumptions that lunch is involved because your interview is at 12:15pm. As an HR professional that doesn't eat her lunch until at least 1:30pm, I can tell you that 12 - 1pm doesn't mean everyone goes to lunch. Many management people work through their lunch hour. I would never dream of eating in front of a candidate during an interview, nor would I want them to either.
  26. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    I once had a first interview with someone who invited me to lunch at one of her favourite restaurants, which at first seemed like a friendly gesture. Turned out to be an ethnic restaurant with a rather challenging menu, which gave me some indication of what she might be like to work with - everything on her terms, with little opportunity for collaboration let alone consideration to others. It was a pleasant enough lunch, but that was just one of many red flags that made me go :scream:
  27. jeffisjeff

    jeffisjeff Well-Known Member

    Well, that will be highly dependent on the field. In academia, job interviews generally last for 1-2 days, and include breakfast, lunch and dinner(s). The strategy of politely declining to eat wouldn't work very well in that case. :p Sometimes there are screening interviews before the "full" interview, but not always.

    My first job right out of college was in consulting, and that also required a full day interview, with no screening interview. I flew in, arriving late morning, had some interviews, was taken to lunch, had some more interviews, then flew home that night. If I had lived further away, I would have flown home the next day, so dinner would have been included as well.
  28. BaileyCatts

    BaileyCatts Well-Known Member

    No lunch. Thank goodness! Yea, I am so used to 12-1p being lunch hour, I was just assuming. But at least I have lots of good info for if it does happen. Or even just eating with the boss, which I have rarely done save for the big group lunch thing.

    Man, I hate this. Anyone want their own personal assistant to just do whatever you tell me to do all day? Maybe we can work a deal. ;) So would enjoy that versus interviews! :slinkaway:
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2011
  29. Sarah

    Sarah Well-Known Member

    Ugh. I've got one of these in a few weeks (completely unlike my last interview in academia for my current position). So all the food tips will be of help. Dinner the night before. Breakfast on my own on the day of, full day interview including a presentation and I'll be taken to lunch with the staff. Interview will conclude late afternoon and home I'll go.

    My dilemma. I live super close to where I'm interviewing (7 miles), but my resume is my permanent address which is about an hour away. Regardless, both are commutable. I mentioned that when they contacted me, offering the interview. I just got an email with my pre-paid hotel room confirmation. Do I contact them and ask if they prefer I stay at the hotel? Do I request to come from home? Do I just not say anything? This part is more stressful than the actual interview (though I'm sure that will change when it's closer). What's appropriate?
  30. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    I've arranged these sorts of interviews, and two things come to mind:
    - Sometimes emails like this get issued to all the candidates regardless of where they are, or there is confusion over which candidate needs the hotel and which doesn't, and a room gets offered when one isn't needed.
    - Search committees generally have restricted budgets, and if you are able to commute but don't tell them and instead take advantage of a free night in a hotel, this is not going to make you look good (i.e. you have wasted their money).

    I would phone them and explain the situation, and ask if they are sure they would like you to stay at the hotel. Make it clear that you are able to commute, and that you are fine with not staying in the hotel if they are OK with that too. They may want you to stay there to ensure you are ready bright and early, rather than e.g. dozing through your alarm or being stuck in traffic. If they are willing to pay for the hotel even though they know how close you are, then that's OK, but it will make you look responsible and thoughtful if you ensure that this is what they intend for you to do.