Learn These Etiquettes for Your Next Dinner or Lunch Interview

Interviews are often nerve-wracking. What makes it more tedious is having an interview during a meal. One of the many reasons an employer will take you for a lunch or dinner interview is to evaluate your social skills.

They want to find out if you can stay calm under pressure. This is very key for many roles, especially marketing or any other position that involves chatting with clients.

Dining with a potential employee allows employers to assess your social and communication skills, not forgetting your table manners. Good table manners will give you an edge over your competitors. Before you head out for that lunch or dinner interview, brush up your dining skills by following these etiquette rules.

Etiquettes for Lunch and Dinner Interviews

Arrive Early

Arrive early

The last thing you want is your interviewer to arrive before you. This will show poor time management skills on your part.

You can ask the management whether there was a reservation made under your interviewer’s name. If not, wait outside. Remember to dress appropriately. It doesn’t matter if the restaurant is casual or not; you are going for an interview.

Switch Off Your Phone

Turn your phone off

Resists the urge to check your phone. Also, mind your table manners. Always say “please” and “thank you” to waiters and to your interviewer, as well.

Keep your elbows off the table, close your mouth while chewing, and never speak with food in your mouth. Always sit up straight.

Is the Table Full?

Check to see the table situation

As a rule, always start from the outside then go inside. The salad fork is always on the far left; next to it will be an entrée fork; the dessert spoon will be on your plate.

Put your solids on the left and liquids on the right, and finally, place your napkin on your lap as soon as you sit down.

Dos and Don’ts During the Meal

Don’t order messy food

Avoid ordering messy food such as chicken with bones, pasta in sauce, lobsters, etc. Also, keep your conversation as light as possible at the beginning. Ask your interviewer how their day was; ask about the weather or whether they have been to the same restaurant before.

Ensure you order an easy-to-eat meal, such as chicken breast, rice, salad, etc. Always cut small-sized bites so you can swallow before you respond to whatever question will be thrown your way. If you want to excuse yourself, remember to leave your napkin on the arm of your chair or the table. After eating, place your knife and fork in the “four” o’clock position, so the waiters know you are done. And always remember to say “thank you.”

Should You Drink During a Dinner or Lunch Interview?

Don’t drink alcohol at an interview

It is advisable not to take alcoholic drinks. An interview is severe enough, and mixing in alcohol might make things more complicated.

You don’t want to ruin your big opportunity by having a beer just because you feel like it.

What to Do After the Meal

Thank the interviewer

After finishing your meal, put your napkin on the table. Let your interviewer pick up the tab.

They are expected to foot the bill because they invited you. Consider following up with a call, or leave a “thank you” note.


When being interviewed for a job over lunch or dinner, it is advisable to follow these rules of etiquette.

Showing your manners in an informal setting can show your potential new boss what kind of person you are, and thus, this will affect their decision to hire you.