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Submitted by vwelch on


I'm looking for guidance for how to conduct lunch as an interviewer.

The "Ordering Multiple Interviews" mentions time allocation and possibly inviting multiple directs, but doesn't talk to how to orchestrate the time during lunch. Other podcasts I find talk about lunch but from the perspective of an interviewee.

It seems challenging to treat lunch as just another interview time in terms of logistics (note taking, etc.) And if you do invite multiple directs, you don't want to turn it into a panel interview.

However, leaving lunch totally casual and unplanned seems to be leaving a good chunk of valuable, limited interviewing time on the floor.

Any tips as to some middle ground that allows eating and socializing, but contributes to the interviewing process? Am I missing a relevant podcast?

Thanks in advance.


pucciot's picture
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Hi - we do this a great deal.


I would suggest a few things.

* The whole days should be Scheduled and the candidate should have an agenda, including lunch.

* Your Admin should make reservations ahead of ti

* Avoid Messy Foods or Finger/Hand eating food places - Forks and knives work better for interviews

* You should arrange transportation ahead of time (if going out)  -- Whos is driving ?  Who's car is clean ?

* Not more than around 6 people.

* Try to invite key peers (of the position) and key directs - such as the position's Admin Asst. to the lunch.

{ If there are very few of those you may also wish to bring your most faithful High S.  You know, the person who arranges all of the birthday parties and pulls the team together.  Whoever they are, even if they are the Janitor or your Admin Asst. }


* Designate a High S to be their "Lunch Buddy".   ( Tell them not to use that term with the candidate.  It will be an internal term.)

The "Lunch Buddy" walks with them to the cars. Walks with them on the way into the restaurant, and sits next to them.

They are to be the person to keep the conversation going.  To try to help the candidate not feel awkward. 


I like to pick a lunch buddy who is a High S and who may not have had an otherwise large role in the interview process.


It doesn't matter who else sits where --- Let that happen naturally.  Just the Lunch Buddy needs to sit on one side.  And makes sure that the candidate gets to the lunch, and has everything they need.


And - Yes !  Everyone who was at the lunch gets to be part of an interview capture meeting.  Or at least part of that meeting.  They should all share their impressions of the team fit.

Good Luck




vwelch's picture
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Thanks for the suggestions. A follow up question if I may...

What specific guidance are you giving the internal invitees to the lunch?

I'm inferring some sort of natural conversation just emerges from your logistics, but I'm not seeing that. I'm finding there is a range of expectations and hence tactics. Some folks want to have a Q&A with the candidate, some want to let the candidate eat while others try to pull them frequently in the conversation, some want to talk about general professional topics, others about our workplace, etc.

pucciot's picture
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I don't give much specific guidance.

I do ask them to "look for Fit" --- and I ask them not to "grill" the person and feel free to talk about many things and a little amongst themselves and about themselves.  To take the "heat" off the candidate.

I do give guidance to the Lunch Buddy as outlined above.

I ask them to keep the conversation as casual as possible.

It should not feel like a Q&A interview.

Personally, I usually ask about travel and vacation.  Where have you travelled ? Do you like to take vacations ?

I also ask about TV shows and movies.

Cocktail hour conversation.

MT has podcasts that can help


How to be Effective in Everyday Conversations


Small Talk Before An Interview


Meal Etiquette- Part 1


Meal Interviews (Part 1 of 2)

Good Luck




vwelch's picture
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Thank you for your insights TJPuccio.

I welcome anyone else's suggestions.