The traditional job interview can feel very rigid and formal, not always allowing you to get the most accurate view of a candidate. Have you considered trying an interview over lunch? The lunch interview poses an opportunity to meet and get to know a professional candidate in a more casual setting. Here are some of the unique advantages a lunch interview presents:
- Reveals True Candidate - In-office interviews are typically more nerve-wracking for candidates. Lighten up the mood and the atmosphere by taking your candidate out to lunch. This invites the candidate to be themselves and give more honest, relaxed answers once the questions start flowing. If you are hiring for a sales or management professional that routinely works with others, a lunch interview can reveal how they may conduct themselves in a similar situation. Emotional intelligence is also more evident in a lunch interview. How well is the candidate engaging themselves with others at the table? Is conversation flowing easily?
- Character (and Manners) Count - A lunch interview is a great way to gauge your candidate’s humility and character. How are they interacting with the servers? Are they saying “thank you”? Also, note what your candidate orders. They should know that the meal is on the company’s tab; are they treating themselves to the surf and turf, or are they ordering something more modest? Has your candidate peered at their phone at all during this interview? Are they making eye contact and engaging with everyone around the table? What are their table manners like?
- It Shows You’re Interested - What better introduction to a company than having your meal paid for? A lunch interview sends your candidate(s) the message that you care about their time and that you are welcoming. Even if the candidate doesn’t get the job, you still made a point to show them that you care and are interested. This is an especially kind gesture for candidates who already hold full-time roles and can easily accompany your business for an interview over lunch instead of having to step around their own working hours.
Lunch interviews may not be right for every employer or every candidate. But it’s an interesting option to consider if you intend to work closely with this candidate and would like to see their true colors.
Bonus Lunch Interview Tips:
- Take your candidate back to the office or work site afterward so that they still get an idea of what working on-site at your business is really like.
- Choose a local restaurant that your candidate would have the option to frequent should they get the job. If you are at a farm location and there are no solid restaurants close by, what is the next best option in a neighboring town or city? You might also consider serving lunch at the office.
- Make smart small talk and don’t try to trap your candidates by asking questions about politics or religion. If you wouldn’t ask at the office, don’t ask at the restaurant.
- Save the drinks for after 5 p.m.