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Lizandra Vega







Mind Your Manners!

Although some of the foods below are not interview-friendly, it’s useful to know the proper way to eat them.


  • Break off pieces with your fingers and butter only the piece you are going to put in your mouth.



  • Tilt the bowl away from you and scoop with your spoon.


  • Use your fingers, starting at the head. 


  • Use your fork and knife; if it’s too crisp, use your fingers.


  • Completely detach the oyster from its shell with a fork. Hold the shell between your thumb and first two fingers. Slurp the oyster and its juice out of the shell. Rather than swallowing the oyster hole, chew it slowly and appreciate the flavors.


Corn on the Cob

  • Make your way from left to right.



Starting Out

Dining Etiquette 101

August 2011

At some point during a lengthy interview process, you may be invited to dine out. Good dining etiquette is one of those skills that, once learned, can be executed effortlessly. 

Pre-Dining Prep

Once you know the date, time and location of your interview, visit the restaurant’s web site—read reviews and scan the menu. Have at least three moderately priced entrée selections in mind. Become familiar with the details—be proactive and avoid surprises.

Food Choices

Avoid heavy sauces, splashy soups, bones, shells and noodles. The following interview-friendly foods should help narrow down your choices:

  • Boneless meats or fish
  • Short pastas in white sauces or “al’olio”
  • Grilled vegetables
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Salads
  • Cookies/biscuits

On the Day of the Meal

Arrive with about 15 minutes to check in and get settled. If the interviewer is running late, you may choose to be seated at your table or wait in a lounge area. It is poor etiquette to start early by ordering anything—you may accept water. You are her guest, so take the seat that faces the view of the room. 

As she approaches, stand up, meet her gaze, and extend your arm for a professional handshake. Allow her to introduce herself first and say your full name. Wait for her to make some type of gesture that guides you to sit. 

“Order” of Business

Place your napkin on your lap. If the waiter offers a wine list, wait for her response; whether or not she accepts, resist the offer. Although you have premeditated selections, politely listen to the specials and pretend to read the menu. Limit yourself to two courses before coffee and dessert. 

Small Talk

You’re not restricted to chatting about professional matters. Use the following hit or miss topics as a guide:

  • Hit: Noncontroversial books, movies, television shows and current events, travel, sports (be diplomatic about your allegiance for your team), community involvement.
  • Miss: Marital status, religion, politics, diet/weight, gossip, criticism. 

Mind Your Table Manners

  • Maintain upright posture, feet on the ground, forearms leaning against the edge of the table.
  • Don’t confuse which glass or plate is yours—solids are to your left and liquids are to your right.
  • Ask for salt only after you taste your food. 
  • If the interviewer excuses herself to use the restroom, stand up to acknowledge her departure. When she returns, rise to your feet again. If you are excusing yourself, leave your napkin on your chair.


After ordering coffee and dessert, the business talk begins. By this time, she may like you enough to give her stamp of approval. When it’s time to go, she will ask the waiter for the check. Do not offer to pay—the meal is part of her hiring expense. Do thank her for her time. When you stand, leave the napkin on the left side of your plate and walk together towards the door. Shake her hand, reiterate your desire for the job, and once again thank her for everything. Be sure to deliver your thank-you note within 24 hours. 

Adapted from "The Image of Success" by Lizandra Vega, Amacom. 

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