#1 CHECK THE MENU ONLINE
Do this the night before the interview so you can decide what to order. You don’t want to worry about pasta sauce splatter, so pick something that you can easily and gracefully conquer with a fork and knife, such as a rice dish or a chicken cutlet. Unless your interviewer insists, don’t order alcohol. Dessert is fine, as long as he orders it first.
#2 DRESS FOR A POWER LUNCH
Pick clothes you’d wear to a traditional in-office interview, unless you’re told otherwise. The old rule “It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed” applies. If unsure, go for a conservative skirt or trouser suit and top.
#3 ASK YOUR INTERVIEWER TO ORDER FIRST
Once he decides, get a dish in the same price range. Avoid the priciest item on the menu – it makes you look greedy. When the food comes, sync your pace with his, so you don’t end up eating too fast or too slowly. Take small bites so you don’t take too long to reply to his questions.
#4 DON’T SEND BACK FOOD
During the meal, your interviewer will be observing your social skills to get an idea of how you handle lunch meetings with clients and your ability to network. Be polite to the servers and mind your table manners. If something goes wrong – say, a waiter spills your drink – handle it graciously. It shows that you can focus on the big picture instead of fussing over minor details.
#5 TREAT HIM LIKE A CLIENT
Your future boss wants to get a sense of how well you can engage people. So instead of jumping straight into business, spend the first half of the meal making small talk, as you would with a client. Ask him questions such as “Why did you join this company?” and share your thoughts on developments in your industry.
#6 BRING UP WORK ONLY WHEN HE DOES
Always wait for your interviewer to steer the conversation towards business. If you have a portfolio of your work, wait until the table has been cleared before whipping it out – that way, you’re less likely to be interrupted by servers bringing more food. At the end of the lunch, thank your interviewer for his time and for hosting the meal. Never offer to pick up the tab (that’s just awkward) or ask to take away leftover food (this makes you look cheap).
Expert sources: Chan Ngee Key, Career coach and job search strategist at Springboard Talent, and Wendy Heng, manager of sales and marketing at Robert Walters Singapore.
This story was first published in Her World Magazine November 2014.
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