Conducting a job interview over lunch is a great way woo a top prospect. But it can be easy to let the friendly, social nature of a meal overshadow the task at hand, which is to learn as much as you can about your guest in a short period of time. Here are tips to keep things on track while you enjoy your working lunch.
Tell your server about the meeting. Nothing can sidetrack conversations faster than interruptions. Arrive at your destination early and find a friendly way to let your server know that you’d appreciate keeping disruptions to a minimum. It’s also a good idea to tell them that you’d like to pick up the check. This is a good way to avoid any awkwardness at the end of the meal when your interviewee is wondering if he or she should reach for their wallet.
Start with small talk. Set aside the first ten minutes of your meeting to find out more about the candidate. Ask about things like where they were born, how long they’ve lived in the area, and what they do in their spare time. You may discover you have things in common, which may help you to build rapport. If you pick up signals that your lunch partner is nervous, be ready to share a funny (and family-friendly!) story about yourself to break the ice.
Have a goal in mind. As with any meeting, know what you want to accomplish before it begins. Create a short list of information you absolutely must talk about, and prioritize these topics when you finally start talking business.
Be ready to jot down notes. Keep a pen and a small pad of paper on the table to take notes about areas you’d like to explore in more depth. This will help you avoid interrupting a good flow of conversation with a follow up question. Instead, your candidates can complete their thoughts naturally and you can listen carefully, rather than worrying that you’ll forget the next question you want to ask.
Finish with a recap. With business and a meal behind you, take a few minutes to recap your conversation and discuss next steps. Confirm any commitments you have made during the meeting and when you’ll deliver on them. Do the same for the candidate.
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