There are many reasons why an employer will choose to conduct an interview over lunch such as:
- Perhaps the hiring company does not have a local office.
- A hiring manager may not want office staff to know the company is hiring for a particular position.
- Both parties may be pressed for time and unable to sacrifice office hours.
For whatever reason, employers may ask to interview you in a public place — say, a restaurant, coffee shop, or even...a bar & grill. If you ever find yourself preparing for an out-of-office interview, here are a few tips:
Wear your interview suit. Just because you may be meeting at a coffee shop doesn’t mean you should dress down. Treat it as a normal interview and dress up (click here for tips and examples for job interview attire).
Double check the location. If your interviewer asks to meet you at a Caribou Coffee and you realize there are three in a ten-block radius, make sure you have the right one.
Watch what you order. Don’t order anything that’s messy. You don’t want raisins from your bagel sticking in your teeth or spaghetti sauce on your shirt. You also shouldn’t order the most expensive item on the menu.
Be prepared. Have a copy of your resume, a pen and paper, your portfolio—whatever it is you normally bring to an interview. You should also prepare as you normally would for an interview, such as: do the appropriate research on the company, rehearse answers to common interview questions, etc.
Don’t drink alcohol. If your interview is at an establishment that serves alcohol; do not to drink even if your interviewer orders a beverage.
Be nice to your server. You’re being watched, so it’s important to treat people with respect and kindness. This includes tipping appropriately.
Offer to pay. Offer to pay—most (normal) interviewers will step in and offer to pay on the company credit card, or at least split it. Just go with whatever they’re insisting—whether it’s to go Dutch or for them to cover the bill.