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Quasi Job Interview….but not really.

Tick tock, goes the clock. Last month I gave myself one year to try and find a job I would love even more than my current position. Today, I’ll hopefully be one step closer to achieving that goal.

I have a friend in San Diego who works for a company you all know very well (think Amazon, Costco, Microsoft, Starbucks, etc). This friend has major connections throughout the company and passed my information along to one of his colleagues (let’s call him Joe) here in Washington. Today, I’ll be meeting Joe for lunch. I’ve never met Joe before, so a lot rides on today’s man date.

I’ve gone on several interviews over the last few years, but I’ve never done a casual lunch. It’s kinda stressing me out a bit. Here are a few I’ve been thinking about…

What do I wear?

I’m gonna play it safe and go business casual. Slacks and a dress shirt. There’s a good chance Joe will be wearing jeans, but ya never know. What if he was in a full suit? When in doubt, error on the side of professionalism.

Should I bring my resume?

This is a tricky one. We’re doing lunch, not an interview. I don’t want to bring my resume to lunch and have him be thinking “WTF, slow down man, I don’t even know your name.” I’ll probably bring a copy, but leave it in the car. If the opportunity presents itself during lunch, I can always tell him I have a copy of my resume and would be happy to provide it to him afterwards.

Who pays?

This one’s a no-brainer. He is meeting me for lunch because his colleague (my friend) asked him to. I obviously should foot the bill. But what if he insists? Or what if he says he will put it on the company card? I’ll do everything I can to communicate my desire to pay for lunch, but need be prepared for a refusal on his part. Have you ever been to lunch with someone’s parents. They start to pay for your food, you tell them you can pay for yourself, they insist, you insist, they hand the cashier some money, and then you reach in your wallet and try shoving money at them. Paying the bill, when two people are being stubborn, can get REAL awkward REAL quick. I’d like to avoid that situation at all costs, even if it means letting him pay.

How will it end?

This is really my biggest concern. As far as I know, Joe has no intentions of trying to get me a job with his company. He’s simply meeting me because my friend asked him to. That means I have between 30 and 60 minutes to prove to Joe I’d be an asset to his team. I imagine one of two things will happen at the conclusion of lunch….

1) He will say “Ninja it was nice to meet. I’ll keep you in mind if anything comes up down the road.” Although those are the words that would come out of his mouth, he’d really be saying “Look Ninja, you’re alright, but I only met with you as a favor. You’re on your own buddy.”


2) He will say “Ninja it was really nice to meet you. Get me a copy of your resume and we’ll start exploring some opportunities with my company.” These are the words I want to hear. Anything that is an indication he not only liked me as a person, but is willing to go out of his way to help me get my foot in the door.

I probably sound super paranoid right now. I promise I’m not that stressed about it, but I’d be lying if I said each of these things hasn’t crossed my mind. If nothing else, at least it will be a great learning experience 🙂 Wish me luck!

Have you ever gone on a non-interview, interview? Is there anything I’m over-thinking, or haven’t thought about? If Joe insists on paying for lunch, do I let him, or shove my card in the waitresses face first?



  1. 1) IMO, business casual is fine for lunch… play it safe.
    2) Agree 100%… bring the CV and leave it in the car… just in case…
    3) I’m thinking Joe will likely expense the lunch; when the bill comes and he reaches for it, don’t make a big fuss about paying. If the bill sits idle on the table for more than a minute, I’d take that as a cue that you can pick up the tab. During my waitressing years, men typically don’t hang around long after the bill is brought to them… quite often, I didn’t even have a chance to put the bill on the table before one of the guys was handing over his credit card.

    Just be your Ninja self, and perhaps bring a portfolio of your stick figure pictures 😉


  2. Good luck! I think you go for the bill as soon as you can and see how it goes. Even if he offers at that point, you should be able to tell if it’s a genuine ‘Oh, no, I really got this’ or a half-hearted ‘Here, I’ll pay.’ I think if you have a notebook in a binder and you have a resume tucked in there, that could be fine. If it never comes up, then I don’t think you would look silly having something to take notes on.

  3. Ninja – business casual – always for a potential lead to a new job.

    Second bring your CV but don’t leave it in the car, put it in a portfolio that zips and set that on the table – just in case you want to write something done or what not during the lunch. It’s always good to have something available to make notes. Especially because you don’t know. That way if he asks or the opportunity presents itself you don’t have to leave him waiting while you run to the car.

    I agree with Mo D about who’s going to pay for the lunch. He’ll probably pay, as he’d like you to know the company is reasonable and even on a fact-finding lunch with a potential job lead prospect, they’ll treat you well because they don’t want to appear like penny pinchers. However, if it lingers, make the offer to get it and see what happens.

    Most of all – be yourself and enjoy the conversation, and food!

  4. I think you have the right idea for what to wear and in regards to who pays I think you should push twice then let him pay if he offers again.
    About the CV, you could leave a printed copy in the car but what you can do in addition to that is have a copy on your cell phone. I always keep a copy on mine just in case I am ever in a situation where I need to email it off or even have it printed short notice. Technology has its advantages you know.

  5. Put yourself out there. He won’t know that you want a position with his company unless you mention it. It will seem forward and he will like you more for going after what you want.

    Definitely dress business casual OR even dressier. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.

  6. No reason to be nervous whatsoever. You already have a job. Worst case scenario, he doesn’t think you’re good for his company and you continue working for the federal government. Just be yourself, have fun, and wear clothes.

  7. If it’s clear he intends to pay, let him. Otherwise you may convey the feeling that you’re not accepting his generosity. The others have had good thoughts too so far. Just remember – grace under pressure.

  8. I think Finding My Way got everything right. You have the appropriate, expected level of nervousness, and you’ll be fine. One of the top criteria for me in hiring someone is would I like to have a meal with this person. He’ll be able to answer that question today. Good luck!

  9. Leaving the CV in the car is a great idea, unless you’ve got a man-purse and can just stash it in that.

    Also, remember to be fragrance-free. Cologne might offend some people.

  10. Don’t get too paranoid. If he offers to pay, just yell “I GOT THIS! I’M THE DEBT NINJA, BEEATCH!”

    Just kidding. Definitely offer to pay, but if he insists let him pay. Don’t make it a big deal out of it, it’s more polite to accept a generous offer than to spend 10 minutes going back and forth on it.


  11. This is an informational networking lunch, so go business casual and leave the resume in the car. Offer to pay at the end of the lunch but if he insists on paying half or all, let him.

    Read up on the company and what they are doing now, especially in the area you prefer to work in. It’s awkard if you don’t know about one of their major developments and would hurt your chances down the road. Ask him a lot of questions about the company culture and his career. Use this time to see if that company would be a good fit for you. He should be doing the majority of the talking.

    Don’t worry if he doesn’t give you answer number 2 at the end of the meeting. Answer number 1 can also mean, “I don’t have anything right now but you are completely awesome.” Afterwards – sometime next week – send an email to open a conversation with him (possibly a link to an article about something you discussed at the lunch). Occasionally keep in touch so when something perfect opens up, you’ll be the first one he thinks about.

  12. Good Luck! Take is as an opportunity to learn and grow as a professional. You will have many more of these types of meetings down the road I am sure.

  13. I agree you should bring your resume and leave it in the car. As for the tab, I wouldn’t make a big deal over it either way.

    As for his response, I wouldn’t say that the #1 option is necessarily blowing you off. There have been many times when I’ve applied for a job and they couldn’t offer me the job at the time, but they called me back later, sometimes many months later. Once I thought I aced an interview and the guy never called me back. I didn’t know what to think, but a few months later a recruiter called me to say the guy had recommended me as a great candidate for a position he was trying to fill.

    The good/ironic thing was that by the time they called me I already had a job that I was very happy with. So you really never know. Just because he doesn’t act like there’s a job for you right now doesn’t mean there won’t be in the future.

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