Business Etiquette: Mastering Meal Time Interviews

You applied for a job, made it through a cou­ple of inter­views and now they want to take you and may­be the final can­di­dates to lunch.  Are your table man­ners up to par?  If the posi­tion you are apply­ing for requires you to wine and dine with clients chances are they are tak­ing you to lunch to check out your table eti­quette.

Your typ­i­cal inter­view may include:

1. Lis­ten­ing to the inter­viewer
2. Answer­ing his/her ques­tions
3. Ask­ing intel­li­gent ques­tions
4. Appear­ing relaxed

Now, throw in a two or three course meal, well this can get messy.  Although meal inter­views may seem less for­mal they are just as impor­tant.  Dur­ing a meal inter­view you are being eval­u­ated on your social and table eti­quette among other things.

In order to sur­pass at a meal inter­view not only do you need to remem­ber your basic table man­ners (which fork to use, nap­kin goes on your lap, which is your bread plate, etc.) remem­ber the fol­low­ing as well;

  • Try to avoid food that is messy such as spaghetti or ribs
  • Avoid food that is heavy on gar­lic or onions…you don’t bad breath
  • Avoid alco­hol
  • Although your meal is more than likely free, you should not order the most expen­sive meal.  The gen­eral guide­line is to fol­low the inter­view­ers lead and order the same as the inter­viewer, if that is not an option then stay close to the price of the meal the inter­viewer ordered
  • Fol­low your host do not begin eat­ing or drink­ing any­thing not even water until your host does
  • The inter­viewer should never eat alone, if they order cof­fee or dessert, then so should you
  • Never offer to pay for the meal
  • Remem­ber to thank the inter­viewer for the meal and you may men­tion a pos­i­tive com­ment on the meal
  • Never ask for a doggy bag
  • Don’t for­get to express how much you enjoyed talk­ing to the inter­viewer and ask what the next step is
  • Send a thank you note within 24 hours

If you are up against oth­ers with equal qual­i­fi­ca­tions, table man­ners can be the decid­ing fac­tor if you are hired or not.

Jules Hirst is a sought after speaker and a rec­og­nized eti­quette coach.  She con­ducts lec­tures, work­shops, sem­i­nars and webi­na­rs in busi­ness and social eti­quette.  Jules co-author Power of Civil­ity where she shares strate­gies and tools for build­ing an excep­tional pro­fes­sional image.

Jules can be reached at: www.juleshirst.com or 310–425‑3160