So, you’re going through the interview process with a great company. Everything is going well and you think you’ll receive an offer soon. Then, your interviewer invites you out to lunch. Although he or she may present the offer in a nonchalant, casual way, your interviewer is probably giving you one last chance to prove yourself before they make a decision.
5 Tips For A Successful Business Lunch by Shannon Mohan
Nervous? Don’t be! Here are a few tips to make sure you have a successful business lunch.
1. Leave Your Phone At Home
This may seem like a casual meal with a potential colleague, but in reality, it’s anything but casual. The word to remember is “potential.” You still have not received an offer, so you should treat this no differently than a formal interview. You wouldn’t take your phone out start replying to e-mails in a primary interview, so don’t do it here. A good way to beat temptation is to leave your phone at home or in the car. If you can’t stomach the thought of being without it, simply put it on silent mode and off of the table.
2. Ask A Few Prepared Questions
Much like in a formal interview, it’s always a good idea to ask questions. You may not talk about business during the entire meal but when you are, make sure it’s not a one-way conversation. Prepare a few open-ended questions to ask just in case you get overwhelmed, or even if you just need a conversation starter. Do a little bit of research on the company and your interviewer. Not a full background check (because no one wants to hire a stalker) but just a few things to bring up if your mind goes blank at any time.
3. Remember Your Basic Table Manners
Don’t put your elbows on the table, don’t talk with your mouth full, and don’t blow your nose in your napkin. Sounds like things your mother tells you right? Well, your mother may have helped you get this job. These are only a few common table manners to follow, but you can research more before hand if you’re not sure on what is acceptable or not. Take into account how you are eating. Never cut all of your food into pieces before you eat it – cut as you go. And the first thing you should do when you sit down is place your napkin in your lap.
4. Order The Right Food
Nothing is more awkward than trying to figure out how to eat nachos in front of your potential boss without making a mess. Always order something neat and simple that won’t make a mess or stain your clothes. As well as ordering the right food, remember to order the right drink. Not sure whether it’s appropriate to order an alcoholic beverage? A good rule of thumb is to wait and see if the interviewer suggests it or offers a drink first. Don’t take this as an invitation to get wasted. Know your limits and keep plenty of water nearby.
5. The Salt And Pepper Rule
Never, ever salt and pepper your food before you taste it. Like you have been reminded throughout this article, this is still a part of the interview process. Paying attention to details is essential. This rule seems silly, but for some, it can make or break their interview. Those who salt and pepper their food before tasting are seen as too assuming and that you jump to conclusions. For some this may be a hard habit to break so practice it leading up to the lunch. No one wants their downfall to be seasoning their potatoes too quickly.
Our corporate member and resident expert, Shelley Menduni, has a great article on this very same subject on our website. Please go to http://srjng.com/2013/02/top-10-business-dinner-etiquette-rules/ and review Shelley’s great advice.
Have a great week!
Ken Lazar, Founder