Candidates – Restaurant Etiquette
It is rare for candidates to deny an invitation for a mealtime interview. Usually it signifies that you are interesting to the management team, your resume has been screened and approved, there’s belief that you are a contender. All indicators are positive and there is momentum.
Remember these points:
- Remove the napkin from the table as soon as you sit down. They will watch and notice if you execute this basic effort, which is sometimes forgotten even at senior levels.
- Always order food you can eat with a utensil. Sandwiches or burgers require too much maintenance, they leak sauces, their buns might be bulky, and it’s awkward to take small bites and carry on a business conversation. At lunch order salads or simple chicken dishes; at dinner order an entrée.
- Keep the order simple so that you will not tie up preparation or stretch their budget. Every company has faced cutbacks, and it is both financially and socially rude to treat yourself to the most expensive meals at their expense. You might ask your host if they have any recommendations.
- If an order is not well-prepared, do not send it back for replacement. Admit that the “meal is not what you expected, but that the meeting is your priority and you are there mainly for business and not the food.” Re-ordering can get complicated and you might be eating alone since your host will likely finish first.
- When you finish the meal, put your fork and knife side-by-side in the four-o’clock position. The staff should (ideally) know you are finished and they will not interrupt your conversation. What if critical details are finally surfacing and the flow or your train of thought is wrecked?
- Remember eye contact is important even with the numerous distractions in a nice restaurant. If you by chance see acquaintances or friends avoid waving from the table. Focus on your host; if they begin talking do not look up even if acquaintances or friends wander over to say hello. If they do stop to greet, a quick introduction is fine. Remember the point where you left off, and jump right back into it.
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