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I’m a 2L in law school and going to a job fair next weekend, where I have a few interviews. Since getting the interviews and I have been in touch with a friend of a friend who is well connected, and who has called one of my interviewers on my behalf. She mentioned that the interviewer would like to go to lunch with me and herself around the date of my interview, so here is my question: if it is the day of my interview, I’ll be in a suit obviously, but if it is before, what would I wear? the lunch would be the first impression, so my instinct would be suit, but that seems formal for a lunch. Thanks for any advice you can give!
Congratulations — this sounds like a great opportunity. We agree that a suit is probably the thing to wear, but thought we’d temper it with a few other thoughts:
- Where does this job rank on your wishlist? If it’s the number one job you want, bust out your best interview suit. If it’s lower on your wishlist, consider wearing your second-best suit — particularly if the lunch is the day before the job fair (that way, if you spill something on your second-best suit, you still have your power suit to wear to the job fair).
- Consider the context — how senior is your friend who set up the interview? How senior is her friend, the interviewer? Where are you meeting? The more formal the spot (and, yes, the more senior your companions), wear a suit. On the other hand, if they’re recent graduates and you’re meeting at a trendy or casual spot, you might want to opt in favor of a more casual suit-like outfit (i.e., blazer, trousers, button-front shirt, etc.).
We would suggest treating this luncheon like the interview — read everything on the company’s web site, and any other materials you can get your hands on. Hunt online to see what people really think about working at the company — particularly if there’s a swarm of bad reviews, you may want to use this lunch to tactfully ask questions of the interviewer and try to determine the truth of the situation. (Be warned that it’s generally better to save the “but how would *I* like the job” questions until after you have the offer in hand — but a few well-worded questions can provide insight.) At the same time, don’t be afraid to toot your own horn at lunch, and, particularly, to show the personality traits that make you a great employee / team member (or have stories ready to tell that illustrate those traits, should the opportunity arise).
Our other advice would be to try to pay particular attention to details about the interviewer, and mention them later in a friendly (not creepy!) way. For example, if she regales you with her adventures while trying to prepare for an upcoming dinner party, wish her luck with it at your interview the next day, or in your thank-you letter. (Do NOT mention it both times; that gets into the creepy territory.) Finally, you may want to check out our previous tips on the business lunch.
Readers, what are your thoughts?