Modern Day Etiquette Lessons for a Lunch/Dinner Interview

The concepts behind Emily Post’s famous etiquette lessons may seem outdated in 2015. Post published these lessons in 1922 in a book called “Etiquette: In Society, In Business, In Politics and At Home.” Although Post came from a prominent, successful family, she decided to shatter the glass ceiling imposed upon most career women at that time. Her book became a best-seller, and she became an inspiration for many women.

Etiquette often seems to have negative connotations—it brings to mind many restrictions and expectations placed upon women in society. However, Post’s work addressed these expectations head-on. Her views were not backwards. In fact, her work was forward-thinking and taught women how to navigate through a challenging society. In 2015, etiquette remains socially important—there are still certain expectations when it comes to the behavior of both men and women. Generations of Post family women continue to update Emily Post’s original work in order to arm you with the most up-to-date expectations of behavior in modern society.

One of the most challenging etiquette tests for adults presents itself in the form of the lunch or dinner job interview. This is where any gaps in knowledge from 1922 up to 2015 can make all the difference between unemployment and a job offer. Here are some important tips to remember.

Mind time constraints

Lunch interviews are limited to a certain period of time, since most people are expected to return to the office afterwards. As the interviewee, you should have all the time in the world. Be conscious of the interviewer’s time constraints. According to “Emily Post Business Etiquette”, a lunch can last anywhere from one to two hours. Dinner interviews are much more leisurely, and are rarely limited by time constraints. If you do have parental obligations or any constraints of your own, be sure to announce that at the very beginning of the meeting. However, try to keep your schedule completely flexible if possible.

Scout the location

Research the restaurant ahead of time. Avoid anxiety about punctuality by knowing about any parking challenges before leaving. In addition, note that a restaurant’s website can provide you with a good sense of the establishment’s dress code. When in doubt, call the hostess to ask for suggestions, or just check the menu prices. The more upscale and expensive, the more likely it is that you should wear your most well-tailored suit.

Psychological tricks

The publication “Psychology Today” claims that people enjoy the sound of their own name. When you first meet someone, be sure to say “It is nice to meet you, [name].” In addition, remember that one of the best ways to determine how you are performing during an interview is to observe whether the interviewer mirrors your body language. For example, if you lean forward and then the other individual leans forward, you are on the right track. Mirroring is a subconscious way of showing that you are on the same wavelength, and deliberately mirroring someone’s actions can help to create a sense of kinship.

Back to basics

Emily Post was a traveling correspondent between Europe and the U.S, and she taught people specific actions for different social situations (from political events to tea with influential people).

Even if you were not taught how to utilize certain cutlery, you will be expected to know during an interview. When in doubt, “Start from the outside and work your way in” as stated by Molly Brown’s character in the film “Titanic.” Also, keep in mind the simple trick with silverware—once used, it should never touch the table again. Just place the butter knife or dinner knife on the side of your plate until you are ready to use it once again. Further, always offer bread and appetizers to your hosts before taking anything yourself.

Some companies use one very interesting trick to find out more about their interviewee without actually asking any questions. Specifically, interviewers sometimes watch to see if you use the salt and pepper before actually tasting your food, as some HR professionals believe that this could be an indicator of a tendency to make quick decisions without examining the facts. In addition, only order alcohol if interviewers order alcohol, and do not feel like you have to drink.—certainly avoid any alcohol during a lunch interview.

Dinner interviews are sometimes viewed as a somewhat social occasion—so be yourself, be confident, and remind yourself that you may know more etiquette tricks than the other candidates for the position.

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