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Don't Eat Your Way Out of an Entry-Level Job Interview

Don't Eat Your Way Out of an Entry-Level Job Interview

Photo courtesy of Frank_BB via Creative Commons

Jackie Loohauis-Bennet | Milwaukee Journal Sentinal

September 24, 2009

Be on Time

Doyle suggests: “Do a trial run the day before, so you know where the restaurant is and where to park.”

Turn Off the Cell Phone

This is perhaps the worst mistake employers see. “Unless you’re waiting for a call from the governor on a stay of execution or you have a relative in surgery, don’t take phone calls,” Zoromski says. “Once I had a candidate watch the phone the whole time, and when it rang he got up and left me alone for 10 minutes. It was a deal- buster.”

Don’t Drink Alcohol

“If the prospective employer orders wine, don’t you do it!” says Anne Zizzo, president and CEO of Zizzo Group Advertising + Public Relations.

Excelle Editors’ Note: In our experience, this is often bad advice, particularly in the private sector where drinking alcohol is a convivial activity expected of employees. A better rule of thumb, we think, is to order alcohol only if the employer does and then make sure you drink in a controlled, responsible manner.

Do Order Something to Eat

“It’s horribly uncomfortable for the interviewer to eat alone. Even if you’re not hungry, eat something,” Zoromski says.

Order Wisely

Don’t order the most expensive item on the menu, or something sloppy like ribs or spaghetti. And stick with the menu. “If you ask for a special order, it’s disruptive, and the meal takes longer,” Zoromski says.

Be Polite to Everyone

Employers will be watching your people skills, including how you treat your server. And if your server offers you a black napkin, take it. “White napkins can leave your lap full of lint,” Zoromski says.

Remember What Your Mother Told You

Keep your elbows off the table. Use utensils starting from the outside in: salad fork on the far left, entree fork next to it, etc. “Have the proper manners,” Zizzo says. “The employer will watch how you handle your flatware. Don’t talk with your mouth full.”

Reach for the Check

“Be the one to grab for it. Make the gesture. Accommodate the employer,” Zizzo says.


Other lunch interview resources include:

- “The Little Book of Etiquette,” by Dorothea Johnson

-’s job search site at

- at interview-over-lunch.htm

- The blog at

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