Congratulations! Being invited to lunch means that you have reached the finals of the selection process. If a potential employer decided to invite you to lunch, it means that you have made an excellent impression so far and that they are seriously considering offering you a position within the team.
This is not an uncommon thing that employers decide to invite finalists to a more informal meeting – over a coffee or meal, especially when their team is small, or the position is high. A less formal and strict meeting is good for both sides as it allows them to discuss topics they probably would not discuss during a standard interview, and thus be able to get to know each other better on a personal level and to evaluate if their cooperation would be beneficial. Interests and hobbies are often topics of this kind of interview, and it makes it is easier to create a more accurate picture of the person sitting across the table based on their attitudes and non-verbal communication.
Since valuable opportunities like informal meeting before establishing the cooperation rarely occur in one’s career, it is normal for you to have jitters. As anxiety can contribute to things going the wrong way during such meetings, here are some tips to help you:
As for any other kind of job interview – good preparation is half the success. That is why it is imperative to set aside enough time before this meeting to get informed and make this step in selection process easier for yourself – for many this kind of meeting can be much more stressful than a regular office meeting, as it represents stepping outside the comfort zone.
Study the job ad and remember the key points regarding your responsibilities as well as your qualifications so that you could mention that in the conversation and draw attention to yourself as a good choice.
Be up to date with innovations from your profession, read daily news so that you can start a conversation and avoid awkward silence. However, remember that you are in a business meeting, and some topics such as religion or politics are not appropriate.
You can find a good conversation topic on your interviewer’s LinkedIn profile, so if you are notified in advance of the person that will join you, visit their profile and find common interests.
Make sure you are informed of the meeting location so you could plan your departure time and avoid being late. Also, if you have an opportunity, flip through the menu in advance so you can order quickly and thoughtfully.
Choosing Food and Drink
As the primary goal of this meeting is to get to know the other party more closely, and enjoying the food and drink comes sideways, do not drag out too much when ordering. Be careful, because if it takes you too long to make an order, you can give an impression of a slow decision-maker, so it is a good idea to think ahead.
Do not go to a meeting too hungry, as an empty stomach can make you feel even more nervous, but do not go to the meeting completely satiated so that you be respectful to the invitee.
‘Play safe’ – order foods that you can easily eat (spaghetti with red sauce and similar dishes can be a bit tricky), and for drinks, it is only appropriate to order a non-alcoholic refreshment, while you should politely refuse alcohol even if the other party offers you.
Do not forget your manners. Be kind to the staff, take care of your eating habits and make sure that you stay neat. If you arrive early, check with the other party if they have booked a table where you could settle, otherwise wait outside the entrance until the other party arrives. Although the atmosphere is more relaxed during a meal or drink, keep an eye out – too casual clothes and heavy makeup can have a negative effect on the overall impression you give. Of course, at the end of the interview, be sure to thank the other party for their time and meal/drink.
It is kind of you to offer to pay the bill, and this can certainly help to reinforce a positive opinion of you. However, be assured that in most situations your prospective employer will have this cost in mind in advance since they have invited you.
Talk about the things you are passionate about, show a genuine desire for the position and the company and listen well to your interviewer. Take the opportunity to evaluate whether you would like to work together and enjoy the meeting, as this is most likely the last step after which you may receive the offer you have longed for.