Did you know that a business meal is often a test for new hires?
That's because at the dining table our manners are on display. Like it or not, we are judged by how we act. People who grab the breadbasket without offering anyone a roll, or shovel food into their mouths, make poor impressions. An employer may conclude that they are aggressive, insensitive, or immature, and question their potential for advancement.
Here are some tips for acing the interview at a business meal:
o Arrive on time or a few minutes early.
o Stick with the basics, such as soup, main course and beverage. Order an appetizer or dessert only if the host suggests it.
o Don't order alcohol unless the host orders wine for the table.
o Don't grill the server on how a dish is prepared, or reveal details about your eating habits. No one wants to know about your low-carb diet.
o Don't order something like a gratin. It takes a long time to prepare and holds up the meal.
o Avoid foods that are messy or difficult to eat, such as lobster, spaghetti, cherry tomatoes (which squirt!), fried chicken, spare ribs, and corn on the cob. Choose foods that are easy to eat with a knife and fork, such as chicken, beef, fish, or quiche.
Proper table etiquette
o Know which fork to use. Look at your place setting. Your bread plate is always on the left. Glasses are always on the right. How can you remember? Easy. The words Food and Left each have four letters. The words Drink and Right each have five letters.
o Always pick up the utensils on the outside first. Then, just work your way in with each course.
Table manners that pay off
o Place your napkin on your lap and use it frequently to wipe your fingers and dab your lips. If you leave the table during the meal, put your napkin on your chair. Never put a soiled napkin on the table until the end of the meal, where you place it, gently crumpled, to the left of your plate.
o Don't cut your roll in half, butter it and chomp into it. Instead, break off one bite-sized piece at a time, butter it and put it into your mouth.
o Thank the host in person. Then send a note after the meal.
Don't get confused about why you are at the table. At a business meal you are really at a job interview that includes tableware. Your manners are on display, and you'll be more likely to secure the job if you have good table manners.
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