There are many tips that you must heed to when interviewing in a public place; apart from distractions there are many other questions on your mind when not interviewing at an office. This article presents the 5 most important tips you must know when interviewing in a public place.

Recently, one of my clients interviewed at a restaurant and was apprehensive about the setting mainly because she is an introvert person and did not like the idea of making interviewing a “casual process” and especially she did not want to do it with food in her mouth! Obviously it was time to prep her for interviewing in a public place with distractions, food and interview-table-manners.

Here are some tips you might find useful if you are in a similar situation:

What to Wear

Even though you are interviewing at an informal place, it is still an interview. You must dress up in business formals but make sure the dress is not too tight or uncomfortable keeping in consideration that you would be eating during the interview! No jeans for sure, if you feel that the interviewer is on the casual side or you already know this person then you can most certainly leave off the jacket at home but again the attire must be professional and apt for an interview.

Where to Sit

Arrive a little before the scheduled time for the interview and greet your interviewers preferably before they are seated and in wait for you. You get an opportunity to scan the restaurant / public area and choose a location which seems most comfortable – preferably away from the main door or the kitchen area or the restrooms (these are the areas of most traffic and we want to have the least distraction possible during an interview). This way you get a say in which place to choose – in most circumstances they would offer to ask. Even if the interviewer doesn’t

Keep your purse handbag away from the table but do have your portfolio/folder/papers with a pen on the table in front of you.

What to Order and Table Manners

It is a good idea to look up the restaurant menu beforehand to know what you would order, you can be better prepared and also not take too much time in deciding what to order. Usually food would be ordered before the interview begins, ‘we do not want much interruptions in-between other than eating’ is the idea. What should you do?

  • Order something light something that you are comfortable eating and also that does not involve messing up hands or dress.  Bite sizes entrees are much better than a burrito or large sandwiches.
  • Do not order or drink alcohol during the interview – even if it is on the house!

Interview over Lunch

  • Never speak with your mouth full and all the other table manners apply stringently in this situation. Focus more on the interview than on food. It does not matter if you finish the serving on your plate what matters is how well you perform at the interview. It is suggested to take only small servings that you can finish even when eating at a slow pace.
  • There might be times when you don’t get the question from the interviewer, either because of the chewing noise in your head or distractions around, ask politely to rephrase the question or elaborate.

Lunch done, Interview Done – Now What

  • Your interviewer most likely will pay for the meal so better not insist for paying the bill or going dutch.
  • Place your napkin slightly folding it on your plate’s side (a folded one looks better than a crumpled one!)
  • And also, wipe your hands well before that thank you hand shake!
  • Follow up as usual as you would do for any interview.

Good Luck!