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Job Interviews Over Lunch: Getting Applicants To Bring Their "A" Game To the Table

Jun 30 2015

A brand new way of solving an age-old problem — getting potential hires comfortable enough on job interviews to hear their real story — is on the horizon.

It's called the "Lunchcruit," and it offers a new way to recruit the talent you need for your company in a relaxed, face-to-face setting over a meal. Don't sell it short — over 1,000 businesses in San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Austin, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles are already on board, menu in hand.

How can a low-pressure lunch change your corporate recruiting game? It’s fairly simple — putting job candidates at ease and getting them to bring their “A” game to the table is a big goal of any hiring manager.

Data shows that stressful job environments — even job interviews — tend to make employees less productive, less open and are more prone to serious health issues.

Additionally, employers and hiring managers don't always get what they need out of high-pressure job interviews.

“Job interviews are inherently misleading,” says Dr. John Sullivan, a popular hiring consultant based in Silicon Valley. “The basic foundation of the interview is based on the premise that during the interview, candidates are acting normally and are telling the truth," he tells recruiting publication ERE.

“This is unlikely because most candidates are scared to death before, during, and after interviews."

According to Sullivan, the actual job interview location and experience is not real, and is mostly useless in gauging the effectiveness of a job candidate. “What happens during the interview might not be representative of what one would actually do on the job," he states. "The goals of many interviews are unfortunately focused on finding faults in the candidates, as opposed to finding their positive aspects.”

Taking the anxiety level down a notch or two with low-pressure interviews away from the office, and over a meal or a cup of coffee, is an idea whose time has come, proponents say.

Through hiring platforms such as Lunchcruit, employers can filter and find job recruits, establish their physical proximity to the position (a big factor in employee effectiveness), and gauge their interest in the job.

Once those hurdles are cleared, employers can schedule a lunch with the candidate (the service uses the term “zero-commitment” lunch) and discuss potential opportunities at the company.

Critics may say taking the hiring manager out of his or her comfort zone is a deal-breaker, but they might actually favor a chance to get away from their busy office, clear their heads, and actually have a pleasant, personal, one-on-one conversation with a job applicant they believe has the potential to be a solid addition to the team.

Off-site lunch interviews may especially appeal more to younger jobseekers, who are used to conducting business in non-office environments. Millennials are also more likely to buy into the mantra of a lunch-based job discussion that's an “organic opportunity to meet talented people," as Lunchcruit puts it, on both sides of the table. The future of any company is its youth. That makes reaching out to millennials in their comfort zones even more critical.

The San Francisco-based company was created by Willia Hsu and Dom Patrick, who believe the new online job placement model, created by the likes of and LinkedIn, is already old and impersonal. Both Hsu and Patrick say there’s a lot riding on companies making the right hiring choices (the online job recruiting industry is valued at $9 billion.)

Companies as diverse as Autodesk, Medidata Solutions and Fitmob are already on board with lunch-based job interviews, and expect more to follow as the online recruiting model changes.

For hiring managers and C-level executives, grabbing a menu instead of a clipboard does represent significant change — but their hiring decisions may just get better as a result.


Brian O’Connell is a writer with 15 years experience covering business news and trends. A former Wall Street bond trader, he has written for dozens of top-tier national business publications, including TIME, MSN Money, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, The and CBS Marketwatch.


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