I suggest planning ahead whenever possible. Most likely you will be told where you are going for lunch ahead of time. Check out the restaurant. Look at their menu and have a plan.
There are definitely some things you should avoid. Anything overly sauced. No one wants to discuss your work history while you are gnawing on a giant hunk of ribs. Also, steer clear of things that require excessive chewing. I know a kale salad might sound like a safe choice but you might regret it while you are trying to chew through that fibrous leaf. Above all else, stay away from the kids menu. Chicken nuggets and fries might seem safe, no excess chewing or sauce to make a mess with. However, I personally would have a hard time taking you seriously.
You might be worried by now that nothing is safe during an interview. Not true. Try to order things that require a fork and knife. This way you can avoid sticky fingers and a ring of sauce around your mouth. Opt for a spinach or mixed green salad instead of kale, much easier to chew. If all else fails, take a cue from your interviewer, or even ask them for a suggestions of what’s good at the restaurant.
The point of meeting over lunch, dinner or drinks, is to be more comfortable. Doing a little planning ahead of time will ensure your confidence. Maybe these suggestions won’t work for you. There isn’t one perfect meal to order. Instead, research your restaurant, brush up on your table manners and prepare for traditional interview questions.
By Caitlin Mandeville | People Science Talent Advisor I