Job interviews are not limited to conference rooms and human resources offices. Employers often like to evaluate prospective hires during a business meal. Not so much about a dining experience, this interview allow recruiters and hiring managers to assess a candidate’s social and communication skills in a more easy-going setting than a stuffy office environment. But. . .
Your dining etiquette matters.
How you conduct yourself indicates how well you could potentially represent this company in a public forum, particularly in jobs where there is a lot of client interaction.
It’s important to remember that even if you are eating in a more casual establishment, only the setting of the interview has changed, not the level of formality. Everything that is fair game in an office is still under consideration here: your appearance, communication skills, and behavior.
Know Your Place Settings
*Remember BMW – Bread plate is to your left. Meal in the center. And your water and wine glasses are to your right.
*Use utensils from the outside in.
*Place a napkin on your lap, folded toward you. If you get up, place the napkin to the left of your plate, or to the right of your place if you are finished eating.
Quick Tips for Business Dining Etiquette
*Scope out the restaurant online and look at the menu ahead of time. Pick something simple that isn’t messy or difficult to eat. Skip the ribs. Generally, foods without sauces or that require you to use your hands are safer.
*Turn off your cellphone or put it on silent and out of sight- nothing is more important that what is happening at that table.
*Be conservative when ordering – do not order the most expensive thing off the menu. If the host/employer suggests something, order it, unless of course you have a dietary or allergic restriction.
*No alcohol. None.
*Close your mouth when chewing.
*Don’t talk with food in your mouth.
*Don’t reach for things – ask for them to be passed.
*When in doubt, follow the host’s lead.
*Let the host/employer pay.
*Follow up with a thank you note after the meal.
With some common sense, basic table manners, and good social skills, the business meal interview can be an opportunity to create a good impression and demonstrate that you are a good fit for the company. Just keep your elbows off the table!