Dining Etiquette

If a lunch or dinner meal is part of your interview day with the employer, remember that this time is still part of the interview. It may feel to you to be a social event but it is not, and you should not become too casual. You are still "on," regardless of whether you are having dinner with a senior manager, or lunch with a peer-level employee of the company. Here are some tips for the dining experience:  

1. Be sure to turn off your cell phone before arriving at the restaurant.

2. Before sitting down, ask your host where she/he would like you to sit.

3. Look over your place setting when you are being seated. Which bread plate is yours? Which glass is yours? (Remember: plate-center; knives, spoons, and glasses-right; forks and bread plate-left).

   4. Place your napkin on your lap when
   seated. If you leave the table during the
   meal, place your napkin on your chair.
   Your napkin goes back on the table only
   at the conclusion of the meal.

   5. Use the proper utensil to eat. Begin
   with the one farthest from the plate. If you make a mistake, don't worry, keep eating! If a utensil falls to the floor, mention it to the waiter and ask for a clean utensil.

6. Ask for items out of your reach to be passed to you. Pass items requested by other diners.

7. Order an easy-to-eat meal (avoid messy sandwiches, spaghetti, lobster, etc.). Order a moderately priced item—not the most expensive item on the menu.

8. Take small bites and chew with your mouth closed. Do not speak with your mouth full. Pace yourself with the host and other guests.

9. Keep a good posture—bring your food to your mouth, not the other way around.

10. Do not drink alcohol (no beer, wine, etc.), even if your host does. You want to be at the top of your game and alert during the meal and conversation, and alcohol is never helpful in that regard! If your host offers you a drink, politely decline and instead order a soft drink, iced tea, water, etc. ("Thank you, but I'd prefer a Diet Coke, if that's all right.")

11. Be courteous of the waitstaff. Do not be demanding; say "please" and "thank you." Also remember: they serve food from the left and remove food from the right.

12. At the end of the meal, thank your host for a wonderful dinner/lunch.