IT MAY NOT HAPPEN
on the first round or even the second, but at some point
during a lengthy interview process, you will be invited to dine out. This
often happens when youre seeing multiple decision makers in one day or
when the 9–5 hours are too precious or impractical to spend on inter-
viewing. When this happens, I let out a huge gasp, because it is precisely
the point when many leading candidates go down. Couple a relaxing
restaurant setting with a cocktail or two and all of a sudden you are an
open book, resulting in the dreaded TMI (too much information). There
are all sorts of inappropriate conversation choices, and they all seem to be
a topic of discussion during a dining interview. Out of the blue, you are on
the subject of your divorce and how you are every bit to blame for it.
Theres alimony talk, then you reminisce about the old days, and finally the
tears start rolling down your face.
12
Whining and Dining
Tipping the Scales with
Appropriate Etiquette
Manners are a sensit ive awareness of the feeling s of others. If you have that aware-
ness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use. —Emily Post (American
etique tte author ity)
Then, there are seating and entrée choices along with how you handle
your knife and fork. It’s easy to descend into a bottomless pit of trouble
when dining on someone else’s expense account. But really, it doesn’t have
to be this way because this is an area you can easily master. I have seen
miraculous transformations in this area. I’m speaking of myself, and its
made all the difference in the world for me. All it takes is a little practice
and a lot of self-control. Its a lot to think about, I know, but good dining
etiquette is one of those skills that, once learned, can be executed effort-
lessly. I equate it to being a good driver: Theres plenty to maneuver but
once you dominate the skill, you can simultaneously drive, eat, and speak.
Distinguish yourself from the pack and do away with awkwardness that
will label you as “unrefined.” Stop whining about the challenge and shape
up your dining habits by exhibiting good table manners while choosing
appropriate conversation topics to combat these killer dining interviews.
Predining Prep
You’ve been given a date, a time, and the name and location of a restau-
rant as the venue for your final interview with the last and most influen-
tial of decision makers within the firm. As soon as you are privy to this
information, it’s homework time. Start by researching the restaurant:
Access its Web site, read a review, call to find out what its cuisine is like,
and do a trial run by visiting beforehand to time your commute. See with
your own eyes what the space and lighting are like. You dont have the
advantage of doing this when your interview venue is in an office, but in
a restaurant you certainly can find out and, believe me, it will help take
the edge off. You will be familiar with details and you won’t have to think
about them during your interview.
Choose a business suit that is authoritative in color and silhouette, as
you will be meeting with the person who is to give the final stamp of
approval. The last thing you need is to be embarrassed by the maître d’
who insists you wear an ill-fitting loaner jacket to sit across from the per-
son who holds your fate in her hands. That would be a huge mistake! Be
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