Business Meals Are Tricky, But Not Impossible

Don’t be a fool. It’s still not a free lunch.

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Business Lunch

Sometimes your potential boss or your boss decides to set up a meeting or interview in a strange place, such as a hotel lobby. First things first: get there early, find a comfortable, quiet place and sit calmly while waiting. You should take a few steps around to release some tension too.

If an interviewer wants to catch you off-guard, they will arrange a business meal at a local restaurant. At this meal, there are some key points you need to keep in mind. Your social graces will be observed and you will be considered as a whole person. Most of the time, a meal interview is the second interview, so you are under strong consideration, but also intense scrutiny. Over-ordering food or drink can signal poor self-discipline, which will call into question your judgment and maturity. If you are rude to waiters and bus people it shows that you will not get along with subordinates and thus, poor leadership skills.

First of all, you will want to avoid alcohol, because it fuzzes your mind and cognition. If you do have a light wine, never order more than one glass. Water is a much better choice, but if your interviewer is ordering alcohol, you may want to also.

Smoking is tricky. If your interviewer is a smoker, and he/she lights up, you may join, but never light up during a meal.

Never order something really messy, like spaghetti or a sloppy joe, and never speak with your mouth full. It is easier to order the same thing as your interviewer. Do not change your order once it is made and never send the food back. Do not order expensive food. Don’t order anything with bones.

Finally, if the waiter puts the bill in front of you, do not touch it. It is the interviewer’s duty to pay it; you should never offer to share payment. Thank the host for the wonderful meal.