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Dinner Interview Behavior

During a dinner interview, is it OK to drink a glass of wine? Is it OK to smoke? What about saying a blessing on the food?

French Cafe

Good questions.

Dinner interviews are rare, but some executives and managers truly believe that you can't really know someone until you break bread with them.

The dinner table is a special gathering place unlike all others.The tone of a job interview changes in a dinner setting.

It's a more relaxed setting.

The phones aren't ringing. Interruptions are unlikely. Everyone is viewed as an equal.

You can talk about all kinds of subjects--sports, politics, family, kids, hobbies, you name it. Sounds great.

Is there a problem here?

Yes...and No. Never forget that a dinner interview is still a job interview.

Heed this wise counsel and all will be well:

  • Make sure you know how to get to the restaurant. Whatever you do, don't be late.
  • Make sure your car is showroom clean in case you are asked to drive from the company to the restaurant.

  • Your job interview attire at dinner, lunch, or breakfast should be the same as if you were meeting at their place of business.
  • Bring a small professional looking binder to take notes and refer to any questions you might have for them.
  • Turn your cell phone off--never on vibrate. Don't ever answer your phone, make a call, or text someone.
  • Let your host take the lead on ordering drinks, appetizers, and food.
  • If your host orders a beer or glass of wine, follow suit if you drink. More on alcoholic beverages in a minute.
  • If your host wants to order an appetizer for 2, go along with it. This will help dilute the affects of your beer or wine.
  • If your host orders a big meal, you might want to order something light since you will be doing most of the talking.
  • After dinner, if your host invites you into the bar for a smoke, it's ok if you smoke too. If you're a non-smoker, join them anyway, if you can tolerate it.
  • If you are a smoker and your host is a non-smoker, and they are courteous to you by asking you if you'd like to have an after-dinner smoke in the bar, politely decline. Suck it up this one time, even if you're dying for a smoke.
  • If your host swears or tells inappropriate jokes or tales, don't reciprocate.
wine bottles

Rules on alcoholic beverages:

  • It's best if you don't drink any alcohol at your dinner interview for obvious reasons. However, if your host likes to sip a glass of wine with their meal, and you enjoy doing the same, it's perfectly OK to drink this way. Even so, make sure you slowly sip and nurse that glass of wine throughout the entire meal. MAYBE have a second glass of wine after you have plenty of food in your system.
  • Avoid mixed drinks. Order a beer or a glass of wine instead, and slowly sip, sip, sip. Small amounts of alcohol can really kick in fast on an empty stomach. If for some reason you get roped into having cocktails before dinner and your host swears the vodkas and tonics here are the best in the world, stick to your guns about having beer or wine. Beer contains 6% alcohol, wine 12%, and vodka 40%.
  • If you have a drinking problem, completely abstain. You are better off offending your host than having one too many and risk saying or doing something you'll later regret.
  • If it's against your religion to drink, tell your host you are a non-drinker and order your favorite soft drink. Don't bring religion into the conversation. Just don't worry about it. Lot's of people don't drink. If your host doesn't like it, too bad. Every once in awhile a non-drinker will be reading the menu and an overzealous waiter will pour you a big glass of white wine. Just smile and ask the waiter to remove it because you prefer a Sprite or something.

Ok--What about saying a blessing on the food?

Can I make a suggestion?

Say a blessing on your food before you drive to the restaurant. I'm sure the Lord will bless your food in advance.

In our home we always say a blessing on our food before we eat. When we are out in public, we don't.

Many people find it annoying and inappropriate when folks bow their head in a public place and move their lips for 60 seconds. Some folks even hold hands and pray out loud.

Your religious beliefs and customs are between you and your God. Keep them personal.

A few people may be offended by this advice and I'm sure some will even get up on their high horse about it. But avoid wearing your religion on your sleeve or coming across in any way as, holier than thou.

Make sure in preparing for a job interview you are up to snuff on other important do's and dont's ...especially sending interview thank you notes.

Enjoy your dinner interview. Bon appetit!

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