Sooner or later, most professionals will eat lunch at a restaurant with colleagues, higher-ups, clients or interviewers. While people may feel comfortable sitting down to a meal with family and friends, dining with professional colleagues can cause a bit of uncertainty when it comes to understanding dining manners and expectations.
Knowing just a few tips can make all the difference, whether you are enjoying a seafood sandwich with your manager or feasting at a holiday luncheon with members of your company’s C-suite.
Tips for an Interview Over Lunch
Have you been invited to a job interview during the lunch hour? This is your time to shine and indicate you understand the basic rules of this particular type of meeting.
Lunch interviews are not about the food. Instead, they are an opportunity for you to showcase your skills in all areas, including understanding how to treat servers well, make a decisive menu choice and not get hung up on little things.
During your interview at a restaurant, use good manners when speaking to everyone from the moment you punctually arrive. This includes eatery staff, not just your interviewer. If your host orders alcohol, decline to have some, too. Alcohol and interviews do not mix.
If you have to send an item back, do not make a big deal about it. Just make the request with a smile and continue the conversation. Allow your host to pick up the tab at the end. Then, consider sending a handwritten thank-you note afterward to differentiate you from other candidates.
Tips for a Business Lunch With the Boss or Any Higher-Up
When you go to a meal with your supervisor, you may feel a little wary. Even if you have known your boss a long time, you should still treat the occasion as a chance to show your professionalism. For instance, stop short of ordering a cocktail unless you are completely certain it will not reflect poorly on you. If you do order alcohol, keep yourself to a one-drink minimum.
Not sure what to order off the menu, especially if you and your boss are just getting to know each other? Follow the boss’s lead, and you cannot go wrong. If the boss orders the priciest sandwich, you can feel comfortable doing likewise. On the other hand, if your manager picks a lower-cost sandwich, salad or entree, follow suit. As a side note, never order anything too messy.
Tips Beyond Ordering From the Lunch Menu
At every business lunch, the boss or a higher-up is thinking about and looking for you to perform like a trusted, important member of the team. Who knows? Your boss may even be thinking about you for a raise or promotion. Keeping these possibilities in mind, treat the occasion with importance.
Another recommendation for business lunches is to skip talking about yourself or your work incessantly. The last thing you want is to be known as a chatterbox. Instead, let your boss guide the discussion.
Finally, be pleasant to waiters. Your compassion will shine through, particularly if a server does something unexpected, like bringing the wrong salad dressing. Every mistake can be remedied.
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