Dining Interviews: Do’s and Don’ts from Local Hiring Attorneys

Are you nervous about an upcoming lunch interview?  Wonder how you can make a good impression on your host employer, or at least avoid completely embarrassing yourself?  Here are some tips from local hiring attorneys to make your interviewing experience more pleasant.


Do be open about where to eat, but try to have some opinion.

Do try to relax, but be professional at all times, even if the attorneys are not.

Do announce any time constraints before the lunch, not during lunch if it goes long. 

Do expect that a firm will pay for lunch, but don’t expect other things.  For example, don’t ask your host to pay for your parking.  Don’t ask to get the points on your frequent diner card unless you are also picking up the tab. 

Don’t double up in a revolving door . . . ever!

Don’t invite yourself to the bathroom when an interviewer says he or she needs to use the restroom.


Do order safe food that it not messy and will allow you to talk.

Don’t order things you cannot pronounce.

Do let your host take the lead on whether to order appetizers and/or desserts. 

Don’t order dessert to go, saying that it is for your wife and you are going to take it back for her. 

If you are a vegan/vegetarian/wheat intolerant, dotry to be unobtrusive about it.  I once went to a recruiting lunch with a raw food vegan.  I felt terrible watching them try to order.  Admittedly, I had been insensitive about the place I had picked, I didn’t ask beforehand if there were any dietary restrictions and the restaurant was not vegan friendly.  Lesson learned on my end, I should have asked.  That being said, I quickly turned the corner on feeling bad when the interviewee lectured us for half an hour over lunch about the virtues of veganism and how the rest of us were morally adrift for eating “animal based products.”   You don’t have to compromise your moral position and order meat, but an interview lunch is not the time to lecture others about their food choices.    


Don’t eat with your mouth open.

Don’t eat like you haven’t had a meal in a week.

If you and your fellow diners are passing appetizers or sharing a dish, don’t grab a bunch—make sure there are plenty for others.


Don’t drink alcohol, unless it is offered to you by your host. (Or you are clearly at a cocktail reception).

At a cocktail reception or other event with alcohol, do still watch how much you drink and be aware if you haven’t eaten much beforehand.  I often order a club soda with lime or a Diet Coke with lime, or cranberry and sprite in a martini glass.  Another pitfall is the wine glass at dinner.  Do be careful to monitor how much you have had.  If the waiter is going around filling glasses and you are engrossed in conversation you may not be able to easily gauge how much you have had to drink.  So what seems like “just one glass” of wine could actually be 3 or more. 

When you go to get a drink for yourself, do always ask if you can get something for anyone else.   


Don’t say bad things about other firms, other lunches, other lawyers, other students, etc.

Don’t comment on how some other firm took you someplace nicer or less nice.

Don’t complain about the service, food, parking, etc.  The only thing that gets transmitted to your interviewers is that you are high maintenance.  As a lawyer, you will eat more bad rubber-chicken meals than in any other profession, so use the interview as an opportunity to shine up those skills in diplomacy!