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erichw1504's avatar

I have a pre-interview luncheon with a potential employer, any advice?

Asked by erichw1504 (26329 points ) December 1st, 2010

This Friday, I have lunch plans with a recruiter who works for a company that is looking to hire me. We spoke on the phone the other day about my skills and current situation. He set up this meeting to speak with me more and get a better impression of who I am.

Have you ever been on one of these before? What was it like? What is some advice you could give me? Should I bring anything (resume, examples of work…)? What should I order to eat? What could I say that will definitely get him to schedule a formal interview with me? What questions should I ask? What questions will he possibly ask me?

By the way I am a computer guy and the position is for a programmer.

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20 Answers

janbb's avatar

Don’t order anything messy to eat and don’t order anything alcoholic to drink. You might bring a portfolio of work or a resume, but keep it aside until you can assess or ask it the recruiter wants to see it.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

No spaghetti ! ! Best manners! Bring the resume as @janbb said. Keep it close, wait for request for additional info. to bring it out. Is the restaurant your choice or interviewer’s ?

KEEP away from pricey foods.

Supacase's avatar

I would order something like grilled chicken. Even if it is dry, you won’t be fighting to cut it and there is no sauce to worry about dripping on your clothes or going unnoticed by you on your chin.

bkcunningham1's avatar

Follow the leader when ordering. Don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu and don’t order an appetizer unless you are offered to do so. Don’t eat anything messy or stinky. NO ALCOHOL. (Even if the recruiter drinks). Don’t ask for a doggy bag.

Show wonderful table manners. Dress appropriately. Be polite. Shake hands. Keep eye contact. Remember the person’s name and use it when talking to them. Smile.

Ask questions. Nothing too personal and nothing that puts the recruiter in a position to defend the company. (Examples of good questions: How long have you worked for the company? Where are your from? Where did you go to college? Don’t ask: Do you like working for the company? Are they a good company to work for?)

By all means bring your resume or appropriate portfolio materials. Afer the formalities at the initial meeting, while going to the table perhaps, say what you brought and say perhaps the recruiter would like to look over them later.

Good luck.

chyna's avatar

Yes, bring your portfolio. It’s better to have it on hand in case it is requested, than to not have it at all. Dress as you would for a job interview, and just be yourself. To me, meeting over lunch is a bit more casual than in an office, so maybe they are getting to know the real you.

marinelife's avatar

Don’t order anything that you might spill on your shirt. You might plan on eating something beforehand so you don’t feel tempted to chow down.

Bring your resume and some work samples.

I hate lunch interviews. Your stomach is in a knot the whole time.

zenvelo's avatar

I don’t care if you are Miss Manners, go look up an etiquette book just to refresh yourself on table manners. Your behavior at the table is as important as your resume.

And I’d say only eat about 80% of the serving, don’t completely clean your plate.

mistic84's avatar

Remember to taste your food first before you salt and pepper it. Posture is important at the table too.

missingbite's avatar

I’m going the other route. Be yourself. If you like spaghetti, order it. Try not to make a mess, but I’m assuming you do that already. I wouldn’t order a beer, but go ahead and eat. If you spill a little on your shirt it shows you are human. If you are hungry, eat a lot. It will show this person you are confident. Don’t sip on water and eat part of a salad because you are afraid he/she is watching you. Bring a resume’ and portfolio. If I am hiring someone, and their work is great, I don’t care if they eat a lot and don’t know what fork to use. (unless this is a waitperson job)

flutherother's avatar

This is an informal/formal meeting. I would chill out and not bring a portfolio. This will make you look cool and confident. Be relaxed and eat whatever you want without pigging out. Be prepared to talk about yourself, your life and what motivates you as well as your experience and qualifications. Have some concrete examples of projects you have accomplished that you can bring into the conversation if required. Try not to projectile vomit across the table. If you are asked for documentation you can bring it along another time but this doesn’t seem the right occasion

erichw1504's avatar

@Tropical_Willie It was the interviewer’s choice.

Jwtd's avatar

I totally agree with @missingbite about being yourself. Employers want people that are easy to work with and good company.

Of course you should act respectful always with such a person, but not to a point where you start acting weird just to follow etiquette.

erichw1504's avatar

@Everyone, thank you for the great advice! I will take all this in and hopefully have a productive lunch. I will try to remember to come back to this question and let you know how it went.

Still haven’t had anyone mention their own experiences. Anyone actually been to one?

sexybonytart's avatar

First off I would suggest being relaxed and happy. When your relaxed they are relaxed. Second make an observation on what they are wearing, a compliment. Thrid remark on the weather, and forth be honest and open.

crazyivan's avatar

Don’t fart!

lifeflame's avatar

This might sound bizarre, but you can also think of it as an opportunity to get to know the employer better. Impressing them is important, but so is enjoying the interaction. Free lunch!

bkcunningham1's avatar

erichw1504, I’ve been to them and conducted them as the recruiter. You’ll do fine. I think everyone’s advise about manners is to just do like your Mom would tell you. Sit up straight, don’t chew with your mouth open, don’t wipe your mouth on your sleeve…you know. They don’t mean to stick your pinky out and pretend to be having crumpets with the Queen. Good manners go along way.

Jeruba's avatar

Do as @janbb says, and follow all the other good advice about what and how to eat.

My standard interview advice, with or without a meal, is this: show your enthusiasm. Let the person know you’re interested in and excited about the job. Not just the job opportunity but the job itself.

AND. Here is something extra. Show courtesy to the restaurant staff and make eye contact with the waiter or waitress.

I once won an informal contest at work and was taken to lunch by the head of IT. After we ordered, he said, “I noticed that you spoke directly to the server and thanked her. I like that.” That’s something I’ve always done, so I didn’t think it was unusual at all. He continued: “Whenever I’m serious about hiring someone, I always take the person to lunch and watch how they treat the staff. If they act like they’ve forgotten they’re speaking to real people, if they’re discourteous, if they don’t make eye contact, they don’t get hired. And they’ll never know why.”

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@erichw1504 The reason I asked about choice of restaurant was, maybe you would ask the interviewer to give you a recommendation for what to order.

janbb's avatar

@Tropical_Willie That could be a problem because then you have to take the suggestion and hwat if it’s something you can’t stand?

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