The Dos and Don’ts of Interview Dining

You are WHAT you eat and you are also HOW you eat, at least when it comes to interview dining. We all know how grueling the interview process can be, sometimes it feels like a series of awkward first dates. You may be excited to be moving along in the interview process and getting invited out to a meal by a potential employer, but you may also be nervous as heck to have your table manners (or lack thereof) on full display. Never fear, OneinaMil is here to give you a crash course on the dos and dont’s of interview dining to help you land your dream job!

DO remember that you are on an interview.

Being out on the town with potential colleagues grabbing a bite to eat should be fun and a great chance for you to get to know more about the company culture, but be on guard and know you are being evaluated the whole time. You don’t have the job yet and you want to make sure you keep up that good impression that got you invited out to eat in the first place.

DON’T take calls during the meal.

As recruiters, we LIVE on our phones, but we know when to put them away. Don’t sink your chances of being hired by being “that guy” taking calls during your interview meal. Before you even enter the restaurant, put your phone on silent. Getting calls during dinner could mean no call for you from the interviewer AFTER dinner.

DO make pleasant conversation.

Stay away from hot button topics like religion and politics. Goodness knows we’ve had enough heated political discussions recently to last us all for awhile! This is your time to find out more about the company and the culture- ask insightful questions like, “What is your favorite thing about working at company X?” “How does company X foster a positive workplace culture?”

DON’T be a hot mess.

Brush up on those table manners! Elbows on the table is a no-no (duh!). Try to stay relaxed and not fidget or play with the food or utensils. And for the love of everything, chew with your mouth closed and don’t speak with food in your mouth. It may seem basic, but trust this recruiter, common sense is not so common.

DO focus on the conversation, not the food.

This is not your last supper and getting the job you want is more important than you having the meal of a lifetime. Eat a snack beforehand so you can focus on the conversation, not the food. Follow the interviewer’s lead when it comes to ordering and be sure stay away from things that may be hard to eat or obscenely expensive.

DO your homework.

If you have allergies or are just a picky eater, it may be a good idea to call the restaurant beforehand to address any dietary concerns. Something wrong with what your order? Your polite attitude will foster a positive impression so mind your p’s and q’s and be sure to be courteous to the wait staff at all times.

DON’T get wasted.

Alcohol can be tough. Your best bet is to nurse one drink or just drink nothing at all. You want to ensure you make a great professional impression on your (hopefully) future colleagues.

DO send a thank you note.

Now the bill arrives, what should you do? You were invited to the meal so you are not obliged to pay the bill- in fact, even offering to pay the bill would be inappropriate. Your payment is in the form of the thank you note you are going to send your interviewer(s) as soon as you get home! #manners