In our next three blog posts, we’re going to examine “special situations” regarding face-to-face interviews.  Because these situations are unique, additional guidance is needed to ensure that you navigate them successfully.  Our first situation is the meal meeting, which we’ll address in two parts.

In this first blog post, we’ll discuss the nature of the meal meeting.  In our next post, we’ll provide etiquette tips and other advice.

The meal is arguably the toughest of all interview situations.  The interviewer has the opportunity to see you in a non-office (and more natural setting) for the purpose of observing your social graces and considering you as a whole person.  In addition, topics not discussed in an office setting can be easily brought up here.  As a result, the slightest slip could get your candidacy deep-sixed before the check even arrives.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that you’re usually not invited to an meal meeting unless you’re already considered a strong candidate for the job and you deserve more intense scrutiny.  After the first face-to-face interview, you might be invited to an eating meeting.

This meeting is often the final hurdle that could lead directly to the job offer.  The interviewer’s concern is not whether you can do the job.  That concern has been laid to rest.  No, now they want to know whether you have the growth potential that will allow you to fill more senior slots as they become available.

But be careful!  Many have tripped over the final hurdle in a closely contested race for the job offer.

Being interviewed in front of others is bad enough, but eating and drinking in front of them at the same time can make it worse.  If you knock over a glass or dribble spaghetti sauce down your chin, the interviewer will be so busy smirking that they won’t hear anything you have to say.

In our next blog post, we’ll explore exactly how you can navigate the “meal meeting” and bring yourself one step closer to securing that all-important offer of employment.

(For more information about successfully preparing for YOUR next interview, download a copy of Dan Simmons’s e-Book, Put Your Best You Forward: Simple Steps to a Successful Interview.)