Employers take job candidates out to lunch or dinner, especially when they are interviewing for jobs where there is a lot of client interaction, to evaluate their social skills and to see how the candidates handle themselves under pressure.
Taking you to breakfast, lunch or dinner provides the interviewer with a chance to check out your communication and interpersonal skills, as well as your table manners, in a more casual environment than an office setting. Good manners will give you an advantage over other candidates, so, take some time to brush up your table manners and to be aware of good interview dining etiquette.
What to Wear
Dress professionally for your dinner interview, just as you would for an interview in the office. The venue has changed, but you are still interviewing for a job and it's important to make a good impression.
Mind Your Manners
Please and thank you go a long way in making a good impression. That means thanking the host or hostess who seats you, the waitstaff, and your host. Follow up with a thank you note
to the interviewer which reiterates your interest in the job.
Remember Your Table Manners
Remember what you mom told you about not chewing and talking at the same time, keeping your elbows off the table, and sitting up straight? Table manners are important when you're dining with a prospective employer. Don't be too casual and do pay attention to good table manners.
Engage in a Conversation
Dining interviews aren't one sided. They are an opportunity for the interviewer to get to know you and vice versa. It's important to be engaged in a conversation with the interviewer and whomever else is there. As well as responding to questions about yourself, ask questions, and carry on a conversation. The more comfortable and relaxed everyone is, the better chance you have of moving to the next round.
To Drink or Not to Drink
There are two schools of thought when it comes to alcohol and interviewing. The first is that it is important to not drink and to keep your wits about you. The other is that it could be awkward if the interviewer orders a bottle of wine and everyone at the table, other than you, has a glass. Of course, if you don't drink alcohol there is absolutely no need to drink just because the host is drinking. If you choose to drink alcohol, don't have more than a glass of wine or so and be very careful to stay focused on the conversation.
Interview Dining Etiquette
How to navigate a restaurant table, including which utensils to use, what to do with your napkin, what to order, what not to order, how to eat your meal, plus more interview etiquette tips.