The do’s and don’ts of a non-traditional interview.

Odd Interview Locations

The do’s and don’ts of a non-traditional interview.

Interviews don’t always follow the tried-and-true methods. Sometimes hiring managers throw out a few eccentric questions, gauging the candidate’s ability for flexibility and stress-induced decision making. But those oddities don’t stop with the interview questions.

Some hiring managers are changing the scene, literally. Today’s interviews go beyond the office and boardroom. Job seekers sometimes find themselves in the most unlikely of locations.

Intimate Timing

OfficeTeam, a staffing agency specializing in high-level placement, recently conducted a survey asking hiring managers about their weirdest interview locations. The survey’s weirdest locations included: 

  • In the bathroom
  • In an elevator
  • At the gym
  • In the front lobby
  • In a shopping center parking lot
  • In the office kitchen
  • At the library
  • On a park bench in front of the office building

Although these are rather private places and don’t typically incite an interview, the survey demonstrates job seekers should be ready for an interview anywhere. You never know when these awkward moments may turn up a job lead.

Hiring managers sometimes choose to hold interviews outside of the office for scheduling reasons or so they can get to know applicants in a less formal environment. This doesn’t mean the interview is less professional or that candidates should take it less seriously.

Table for Two

Job seekers sometimes find themselves taking a seat with their potential boss during lunch or happy hour. These employers often use their breaks to fit in important meetings and interviews.

While there are many rules to the Dining Interview, each one depending on time and location, most hiring managers suggest to take the lead of their host. Other suggestions include considering the type of food served. It is difficult to talk and act professional if your order a double bacon cheeseburger and fries. Also avoid pungent foods, such as recipes including onion, garlic and other strong ingredients. While salads are often considered to be a pleasant smelling and cleaner meal, remember salad greens tend to stick in the teeth. Other vegetables should be avoided for similar reasons.

Most experts agree soup, non-greasy finger foods and carefully selected appetizers are the best route to go. Just stay clear of pastas, cream-based soup stock and other items mentioned above.

Alcoholic beverages are one of the primary concerns. If you have religious, ethical, medical or legal concerns with alcohol, do not drink. Otherwise, allow your host to take the lead. If they drink alcohol, and you don’t object, go ahead and have a small glass of mild wine or other mild drink. Do not drink more than a half glass; stay away from strong drinks, and never drink more than the host.

It also is considered rude not to eat with your host. Even if you’re not hungry, try to eat a small amount of food, as not to offend your potential boss.

Although applicants should be flexible about interview locations, they shouldn't ignore their instincts if a meeting venue seems out of line. It could be a red flag that the opportunity isn't a good fit.

Winning the Job

Prepare and Research- Do not wait until the last minute to learn the route to the interview location. Look it up using an online mapping service such as Bing or Google. Review the directions and parking information. Consider traffic and the time of day you will be traveling.

Dress to Impress- Don’t make the mistake of dressing casual just because you are interviewing at McDonald’s or Starbucks. Just because a job interview is held at a coffee shop or park doesn't mean you should wear jeans and a T-shirt. Dress in office-appropriate attire or clothing appropriate for the job you are seeking (i.e. suit and tie for executives, polo and dress pants for McDonald’s supervisor, etc.).

Learn from Mrs. Manners- Take time to study proper table manners. Your mother or grandmother could be very helpful in this area. No elbows on the table. If the restaurant is an upper class establishment, it would be useful to learn which fork is used for eating salads versus the meal fork.

Treat it like any other Interview- This is an interview, regardless of the location. Send a follow-up and thank you letter just as you would with an in-office interview. Remember to ask questions. Study the company’s values, mission statement. This will impress the boss, and convince him you care about the company.

These locations may seem to be intimidating at first, but, in the end, job seekers can turn any interview location into a win. It only takes a little practice, preparation and positive outlook.

Content sourced from Talent Inc.
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