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Interviewing While Dining

March 27, 2019

Prepare for a Dinner Interview

By Katrina Clymer, Academic & Career Advisor 

Many of you will have interviews that are all day events, including meals. This is an opportunity for your employer to observe your interpersonal skills, learn more about you, and determine if you are a good fit for their organization. While you may be in a more informal setting than a traditional interview, remember you are still being interviewed.  With that in mind, here are a few pointers covering how to conduct yourself while interviewing over a meal:

Alcohol:

  • Drink in moderation - order one alcoholic beverage and sip it throughout the evening
  • Know yourself - if you have any adverse reactions to alcohol (become too giggly or lose control of your ability to filter your speech) DON’T DRINK!
  •  If you feel uneasy about not having a drink, order a “mock-tail” - Tonic with a twist is an easy choice
Table Manners:
  • Avoid the temptation to look at your phone – in fact you may want to just turn it off and put it away
  • Remember you are being interviewed - sit up straight, smile, and make eye contact
  • Follow the lead of your host - order a meal the same price or less
  • Avoid ordering messy food or food you must pick up with your hands like ribs, wings, soup, or corn on the cobb
  • Wait to eat until everyone has been served
  • Place your napkin in your lap not around your neck
  • Cut your food one piece at a time and take small bites
  • Don’t chew with your mouth open
  • Don’t blow your nose at the table
  • If you need to use the restroom, simply excuse yourself from the table by saying, “Excuse me, I’ll be right back” Don’t announce that you need to go to the bathroom
  • Always thank your host at the end of the meal
Polite Conversation:
  • As a general rule, avoid these topics - religion, politics, or any off color humor
  • Appropriate dinner topics - their organization, career & educational background, travel, the food or restaurant, sports & entertainment
  • Ask open ended questions. This shows your interest in the search committee member(s), the company, and shows you take initiative, are inquisitive, and have great interpersonal skills
Examples of open-ended questions:
  • How was your weekend?
  • What do you like most about working at your company?
  • I read on your website that your company is in the middle of a new project. Can you tell me more about how that project got started?

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