Eating Healthy on Interviews

Interviewing for a faculty position is exciting.  You’re investigating an institution for where you may want to work, and they are investigating you.  Interviews are also a recruiting tool- the institutions want you to come there, so they wine and dine you.  Most faculty interviews will have at least one lunch and one dinner, and some will have two breakfasts, two lunches, and two or even three dinners.  It adds up to a lot of calories.  If you do a lot of interviews, it adds up.  How do you still eat healthy when you are going on so many interviews?

This problem is two-fold.  One, you are going out to eat for every meal.  Meals eaten out tend to be higher in calories than meals eaten at home.  They can also be deceptively high-calorie.  Two, there is some social pressure to conform to social norms as regards eating.  If an interviewer orders an appetizer, it may be considered rude not to have some.  Similarly, if an interviewer orders a dessert, there is an implication you should, too.  So what do you do?

  1. Do not order appetizers yourself.  If the interviewer(s) do so, have 1-2 pieces to be polite, but no more.
  2. Be mindful of the caloric content of the meals.  Some restaurants post the calories in their items.  Just because it is a salad doesn’t mean it is low-calorie.  Fish and chicken entrees tend to have fewer calories than others.
  3. Do not order dessert yourself.  If the interviewer(s) do so, order a decaf coffee instead.
  4. For breakfast, focus on fruits or veggie-heavy omelets and avoid high-calorie carbs like pancakes and french toast.
  5. Feel free to leave some (<50%) of your food on the plate.  You don’t have to finish everything.  You DO have to finish MOST of the food- just pushing it around on your plate may seem unappreciative or rude.
  6. If the interviewers order alcohol, and you want to have a drink, choose wine or spirits neat or on the rocks preferentially over a high-alcohol beer or a cocktail.

Eating healthily makes you feel better and may make your interview performance is better.  You can balance the social niceties of eating out at interviews with minding calories so you stay healthy.  These are not hard-and-fast rules, but more helpful guidelines.  If you are mindful, you can successfully endure numerous interviews with a minimal caloric burden.

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