The Interview Meal

You may get invited to lunch or dinner with a potential employer. The meal is part of the interview process; it's not a "time out." You'll be watched as closely as during the office visit part of your interview.

Here are some basic guidelines for interview meals:

  • Let the host/ess signal for service, initiate the order, and decide when to leave.
  • Let the host/ess order first, then order something that is no more expensive and that will take no more time to prepare.
  • Use everything you've ever learned about etiquette.
  • If you're driving, make sure you know the directions to the restaurant and the location of the parking. Scout the route and parking beforehand, if necessary.
  • If your spouse or partner is invited, that person should dress in interview-worthy clothing, too.
  • Thank the host/ess for the meal and as you leave, indicate how interested you are in the job.
  • And here are some things to NOT do during an interview meal:
    • Don't order hard liquor or smoke, even if invited to. In terms of alcohol, limit yourself to one glass of wine, and only at dinner.
    • Don't order soup, spaghetti, or anything else that you might end up wearing. And don't order ribs, chicken, or anything else that you have to wrestle with.
    • Don't complain about anything: the service, the food, the size of the portions, the lighting.
    • Don't bring up business matters until the host/ess does. If it never comes up, express your interest in the employer late in the meal.
    • Don't reach for the check or argue about it.

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