Do I Have Spinach In My Teeth? The Lunch Interview.

The dreaded first lunch interview! I have been to too many lunch meetings to count, recently losing the 20 pounds I gained attending, here are a few things to consider.

Breaking bread, sharing a meal, lunch or in our Midwest farming communities “dinner” whatever you call it these meetings are valuable and a great way to get to know someone one better. If it is your first lunch interview, terrifying, I know! Not only do you need to remember everything on how to prepare for a regular interview… here comes the spinach salad.

5 Easy Tips for the Lunch Interview

Dress Attire

No question, wear what you would to a 1 on 1 interview. A dress shirt and a tie are always appropriate. For the ladies, a suit never goes out of style.  As a general rule, if you ever think to yourself “should I wear this?”, change… chances are it’s not the best choice.

Be Prepared

Look up the restaurant online ahead of time. Try to be the first one to arrive, waiting in the lobby rather than the bar. It’s lunch not happy hour. Bring along your resume, copy of the job description too. Is there anything you can learn about the person you are meeting ahead of time? Try a Google search or LinkedIn. Finally, be sure to know what is going on in the news that day before you leave the house.


You‘re ready, you know what’s going on in the news and potentially if you and your host have any hobbies in common. A lunch interview is much more casual than a 1 on 1 interview. Be on your toes but, don’t sweat it. A light-hearted conversation will exhibit a lot of your interpersonal skills.


Let’s put the table manners you learned at home to the test! You were invited to this meeting; let your host be your guide. Allow them to order first and follow their lead. If they order a cup of soup and half of a sandwich, follow suit. NEVER out order your host. This is not the time for surf n’ turf or a full rack of ribs. Chances are your host has done this before; they can be your best coach.

The Check

As a guest it is customary to let the host pick up the check. Allow them to do so, do not fight over the check or try to grab it before they can pay for it. In a networking situation you may want to alternate paying the bill if you plan to meet with them again in the future.

Your host chose a lunch interview to get to know you better, be yourself and have fun with it! Be sure to thank your host for lunch at the close of the meeting and in your follow up thank you card.

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Jen Ray, PHR

Jen Ray, PHR is professional relationship builder by day, general contractor by night. Her experiences come from the retail, financial services and banking industries. Outside of the office, you will find Jen remolding her home in the Greater Milwaukee Area. Connect with Jen.

Reader Interactions


  1. Mary says

    Great ordering tip Jen. Reviewing the menu in advance is helpful when adjusting your order to follow the interviewers lead. Congratulations if you’ve been invited to a lunch interview. This is indeed a good sign.
    If you’re one of many having a hard time getting an interview of any sort, there’s a new website that can help… give a try. will help you customize your resume for a job opportunity by matching your resume to a specific job opportunity and providing a list of keywords. Use these keywords to target your resume for the job application. Doing this will increase your chances of getting the call for an interview, maybe you’ll even score a lunch!



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