Dining etiquette is a thing of the past for many college students.
College life ensues a constant on-the-go eating style whether it’s in the car or on the way to class. But in the business world, when dining out with a boss or for an interview, proper dining etiquette is a strong and timeless force.
For Latha Pillai, a senior communication major, her experiences of dining out with a boss were good, but she did admit to feeling nervous when dining out with her boss for the first time.
“I was definitely anxious at first, but my boss made me feel very comfortable and five minutes after we sat down, all nervous feelings went away,” Pillai said.
While she said the relationships she had built with her boss made it so they were comfortable around each other and could laugh things off, she still received some advice on how to make sure the dinner was a professional success.
“Knowing when to give your input and knowing when to listen, it’s very important to realize who is leading the conversation and to know when to transition from follower to leader,” Pillai said.
She also said it is important to evaluate the relationship with a boss before dining out for it to flow easier.
Whether there is an established and more comfortable, professional relationship with a boss or it’s a first-time interview, there are a few ways to present the most polished and well-mannered self.
Becca Scott, a career advisor at Career Services, sat down with the Collegiate Times to share a few should-knows about professional dining etiquette.
What are the most important tips someone should know before dining out with their boss or for an interview?
They should do research on dining etiquette so they understand the rules of professional and business dining.
If they have the opportunity to view the menu ahead of time, they can plan out what they want to order, keeping in mind what will be easy to eat. Pick items that are easy to eat and don’t require a lot of special requests.
They should understand that the meal is part of the interview, so they should be prepare to answer interview questions and have a conversation that is business related and master the art of small talk.
How do you accept an invitation to dinner with your boss or for an interview?
If invited through invitation, electronic or paper, you should always RSVP.
Let them know whether you are coming or not, so they know how many people to plan for. It’s always a good idea, after the meal, to send a thank you note for that effort.
Is getting alcohol, if of age, recommended or discouraged?
On an interview, it is discouraged.
Even if you are 21, you don’t want to ever put yourself in a situation where you may let your guard down and not be at your best performance level. If it’s cocktail hour or the person interviewing you offers you a drink, it’s fine to politely say no.
What is the worst thing you can do when dining out with your boss?
One of the worst things you could do is take advantage of the situation and order the most expensive thing on the menu thinking your boss is going to take care of the meal.
It can show that if you are unconcerned about money over a meal, then what might you be buying with the company’s money?
Also, not understanding the rules of etiquette for a meal could be a big mistake along with texting or talking on the phone.
How should the bill be handled?
For an interview, the person interviewing you should cover the cost of the meal.
There is no expectation for you to cover the bill or pay for your portion. If you’re with your boss then you would offer to pay for your portion of the meal. You could always offer to pay. Offer twice, and if you are refused twice, don’t offer because then people start to feel insulted.
What will help make the meal a sure success?
Engaging in a conversation, being respectful of the boss or the person interviewing you, understanding the rules of etiquette and keeping in mind the focus of the meal to direct it in the right way.