by Lyudmila Bloch, Etiquette Expert NYC
If you're looking to get ahead in your professional life, holding your fork in the right hand might actually make a big difference!
Interviews are always nerve-racking -- even for experienced applicants who have interviewed many times in the past. And regardless of how skilled or poised you are -- interviewing can be even more challenging when you are expected to eat and talk at the same time. The art of the meal and dining etiquette-knowledge make navigating the world of business so much easier. Nothing is more revealing about a person’s background and values than his or her table manners!
Your potential employer might choose to take you to lunch to see how you handle pressure – graceful dining and simultaneous business chat are for the pros!
To be successful in business, your business dining skills during a business lunch must be on par with your professional skills. Good business skills are practiced not so much in words but in actions and attitude.
I once got a phone call from the president of a big manufacturing company because she wanted to fire her CFO but not for the lack of skills. The problem was his innapropriate table manners and comments during business meals. She could no longer include him in any important business meetings with clients because clients made comments about the CFO’s table manners. For one thing, he had a habit of chewing food with his mouth open! He had good financial skills but his social skills for business needed a major makeover.
Table manners matter a great deal! Good manners demonstrate not only respect and consideration for fellow diners, but also one’s level of refinement. They may even give you the edge over another candidate, so take a few moments to review our tips on business dining etiquette and table manners.
Do's and Dont's of Dining:
- Do not order difficult-to-eat foods (pasta, ribs, etc.)
- Follow the lead of your interviewer
- Do not order alcohol to calm your nerves.
- Order the same number of dishes as your interviewer.
- Use proper “Continental Dining Style" rather than American
- Always work from the outside-in when choosing silverware.
- Don’t move your bread-and-butter plate closer to you.
- Use napkin every two-three bites to blot your mouth.
- Learn the difference between a soup bowl and a finger bowl.
- Pass salt and pepper shakers together.
- When leaving the table during a meal, place your napkin on the back of your chair not on your seat.
- Place your napkin on the left when your meal is finished. Do not refold it.
- Don’t ever tuck your dining napkin into your collar – even if lobster is being served. Always keep it on your lap.
- Don’t forget to turn off your cell phone.
- Ask for the interviewer’s business card only after your meal is finished.
- Give a firm handshake at the end of your business meal and ask for the job. Offer one closing statement about yourself: why you are the best candidate for this position.
- Write a thank-you note immediately after your lunch/dinner.
- Thank your interviewer for his/her time and consideration.
- Send your note by mail and follow up via e-mail
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