Mastering the Executive Lunch Interview
So the initial phone or skype interviews went well, and you advanced to the next round of interviews.
In the following intensive first round in-person interview you were spot-on and convincing.
In the subsequent 2 round panel interview situation, you delivered a brilliantly outlined 30, 60, and 90-day action plan that convinced the executive level hiring authorities to shortlist you.
Now your target company has narrowed it down to 3 candidates, and the CEO or company board have invited you to a final lunch interview. Now, what to do? What else could they possibly ask you?
The intention of the Lunch Interview
Obviously, the lunch interview is supposed to reveal something about you beyond your actual subject matter expertise.
And no, contrary to the general interview advice out there it’s not primarily to test your eating manners (that is just a given). You are a seasoned executive, and you have been to more business lunches than you care to remember.
So please forget about the usual lunch advise on what to order and not order, or where to place your napkin.
What the company wants to see is your “real world” behavior in a supposedly more relaxed atmosphere compared to the sterile interview room with all sorts of canned interview talk.
Naturally, people are more inclined to “reveal their true colors” in a casual lunch atmosphere vs. the more “defensive” situation of being grilled by a 5 people panel. By that doesn’t mean it’s all cruise control from here on. You still have to outcompete 2 high-level competitors.
How to Prepare and Deliver
The lunch interview is really the scenario where you want to do your research on the people that are going to be present. Any shared interests, philanthropy, hobbies, common alumni, or industry networking groups? Make sure you know about it.
The lunch interview is a great opportunity to showcase that you are “the complete package” as you can demonstrate “great communication skills” and the “ability to connect with stakeholders at all levels” live and in action.
A natural flow to the conversation is a two way lane, so don’t just wait for questions. Look at the lunch interview as an opportunity to read between the lines and to determine actual cultural fit. You and your interviewers alike will want to gauge how well you might connect during everyday business.
Last but not least, do not forget to send a customized thank you note for the lunch invitation.
Interested in working with me to ensure executive career success? Let’s get on the phone and discuss how I can help.