Lunching while under the spotlight

In certain aviation positions, it’s common to be invited to a lunch interview.  Interviews of any type are stressful, but when you add a restaurant setting into the equation, they can seem like a complete nightmare.  If you’re facing a lunch interview, the important thing is to stay calm and plan ahead.  Here are some great Top Tips to help you:

  1. Visit the venue. In most aviation lunch interview situations, you’ll know well ahead of time where the interview will take place.  Unless it is taking place on your prospective employer’s premises, you’ll have the chance to check out the venue before the big day.  If you can do this, it’ll help you visualise yourself in situ on the day as well as letting you plan ahead of time what’s likely to happen on the day regarding practical things like how formal the restaurant is, the menu options, where the toilets are etc etc.

  2. Arrive in good time. While you don’t want to be pacing up and down on the pavement for hours before your lunch interview, arriving in good time is essential if you’re going to have time to collect yourself and calm your nerves before you are finally sitting at the table. 

  3. Remember that politeness is the dish of the day. No matter what else you forget, it’s essential during a lunch interview to remember your manners.  Things like using the right cutlery, making sure you sit after your interviewer and after any women present if you’re a man are basics, but also remember that speaking with your mouth full is a complete no-no.

  4. Let the interviewer take the lead. When it comes to making selections, while it’s never a great idea to pick the most complex or expensive item on the menu, you needn’t be shy in ordering what you really want to eat either.  Let yourself be lead by your interviewer when it comes to the likes of partaking in alcohol or deserts.

  5. Buy yourself time. If you’re asked a difficult question in a lunch interview an easy way to buy yourself time is to pretend you have a mouthful of food.  Simply raise your napkin up to your mouth and suggest a brief pause with your eyes.  This is a great trick if you’re searching for an answer and want a few extra moments of time.

  6. Keep your wits about you. In any informal situation, the temptation is to over-relax, but an aviation lunch interview isn’t the time to do so.  Treat the interview as you would any formal, boardroom style interview and make sure you’re not lulled into a false sense of security by the setting.

  7. Let your personality shine through. It’s normal that in a lunch setting, the topics of conversation will touch on the personal or more informal from time to time and it’s a good idea to be prepared for this.  At this style of interview, you’ll normally get a chance to widen your presentation of yourself.  For example, you might find yourself being asked about foods you like, wines you’re drawn to or countries that you’ve travelled to.  This is a great way to let your personality shine through.

  8. Be courteous to all around you. No matter whether you find the waiting staff a pain or if there are other interviewees at the table that are getting on your nerves, it’s essential that you remain courteous to all around you.  Let others at the table have their time to speak and remember your “please and thank you” routines to all the restaurant staff.

  9. Don’t worry about the bill. When it comes time to stump up for the food, there is no need for you to feel in any way awkward.  Your prospective employer has invited you and it’s they who’ll be picking up the bill.

  10. Say thank you. As you would in any situation where you’d been invited for lunch, remember to say Thank You. 

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