Interview Etiquette at the Table

You will probably not be asked to an “eating meeting” unless you have demonstrated that you can do the job. An invitation to a meal means that you are under strong consideration. The interviewer’s main objective is to evaluate your social skills. Using proper dining etiquette is essential.

Don't neglect your table manners.

before the meal

  • Confirm the location and time. Ask how you will recognize the interviewer.
  • If you are nervous about the setting, visit the restaurant before the interview. Look at the menu - brush up on the correct pronunciation of the items on the menu and the correct dining etiquette for eating those items.
  • Turn off your cell phone before entering the restaurant and leave it off.
  • Dress professionally (even if the restaurant is casual).
  • Bring copies of your resume and a pen and note pad.
  • Follow the steps you would normally take to get ready for an office interview. Research the company, practice your responses to interview questions, and prepare a list of questions you have for the interviewer.
  • Arrive early to visit to the restroom to tidy up. Take a few minutes to relax before the interview.

during the meal

Job interviews over dinner require a less aggressive sell than an office interview. The company believes you can do the job at this point and would like to evaluate your social skills.

  • Focus on the interviewer even if the restaurant is noisy and full of distractions.
  • Avoid discussing religion, politics, or anything else that might be controversial.
  • Although the setting might be casual, don't become too familiar with the interviewer. Remain professional.
  • Try your best to remain relaxed and stay confident. Remember that the company believes you can do the job.

dining etiquette tips

Use excellent table manners and follow these dining etiquette tips at the table:

  • If there is more than one person interviewing you, allow everyone to sit and then put your napkin in your lap.
  • Order something that is easy to eat. If in doubt, order what the interviewer is eating.
  • Don't order alcohol.
  • Do not change your order or send food back.
  • Be polite to servers. Say "please" and "thank you."

after the meal

  • As the invitee, you have no responsibility for the bill, but be sure to thank your host for the meal.
  • Ask for your host(s) business card(s) if you have not already received them.
  • Leave on a positive note by expressing your interest in the job.
  • Write the host a "thank you note."