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Job interviews can be a nerve-racking experience for just about any job seeker. But these days, some recruiters are taking a new approach to interviews by leaving the office and heading to a restaurant or café. These lunch or dinner interviews provide a more relaxed setting, but they also require you to pay attention to how you look while eating. Here are a few tips for conquering this tricky interview scenario, courtesy of WorkTree.com:
Mind your manners
This obvious advice simply means using those basic table manners you were taught as a child. Be polite, both to the interviewer and to the wait staff. Watch out for bad eating habits, like keeping your elbows on the table, chewing with your mouth open or talking with your mouth full. If you need a refresher on table manners, consult Emily Post’s books on etiquette before your interview.
The employer may be treating you to a meal, but that’s not necessarily an invitation to order whatever you want. To start, follow the interviewer’s lead when considering how much your meal should cost or whether you should order an appetizer or dessert. Next, avoid messy foods or those with a strong odor – you don’t want to splatter your shirt with spaghetti sauce or offend the interviewer with a breath full of garlic. Finally, steer clear of noisy or crunchy foods, which may create additional noise that could make it hard to have a conversation.
Balance talking with eating
Doing both can be a challenge. Don’t be afraid to dig in to your meal during the conversation – simply rambling on and on can be interpreted as nervousness. Be prepared with a list of questions you’d like to ask the interviewer. In addition to giving you more information on the company, it will show the interviewer that you’re prepared and give you a chance to eat while he or she responds to your questions.
Unlike a standard interview, a mealtime interview won’t simply end with a handshake and a smile. When finishing your meal, don’t offer to pay – it’s never expected of a job candidate. Also, either finish your meal or leave the leftovers as asking for a box is not appropriate for this setting. Finally, as with any interview, you should reaffirm your interest in the position and offer a firm handshake as you thank the interviewer. Follow up with a thank-you letter.
The mealtime interview can be tricky, but it can also give the interviewer a true sense of your personality. So, keep these hints in mind and you’ll be just fine.
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