The Importance of Dining Etiquette at a Business Meal

An experienced professional is always very much aware of the importance of strong dining skills and it should definitely not come as a surprise that dining, unless done properly, could easily harm your reputation. This is why many times second interviews are conducted over a meal.

The Importance of Dining Etiquette at a Business Meal

How you handle yourself at the table, under pressure with a mouthful of food, can either positively or negatively influence a business decision.

Therefore, be aware that a successful business meal requires advanced skills and thoughtful planning.

Have a look at few general dining etiquette principles that a young graduate or seasoned executive cannot afford to overlook.

  • Relax and be yourself. Make sure you won’t be very hungry when you get there so you can focus more on the conversation than on wolfing down food or on obsessing about whether your etiquette is beyond reproach.
  • Never take calls during your meeting/meal. The candidate who answers a call during the meal may not get the call after the meal.
  • Don’t order an alcoholic drink during an interview, even if the interviewer orders one and seems to honestly give you permission to. Most managers may just be testing your judgment quite strictly here.
  • Mind your posture - focus on body language as it’s extremely important.
  • Liquids belong on the right, solids on the left.
  • Make sure to try a little of everything on your plate unless you have a food allergy. You will present yourself as unsophisticated and juvenile in case you eat only your steak and potatoes, turning your nose up at your peas and carrots.
  • Don’t salt and pepper your food before first trying it, as this is another trap. Some managers of certain top companies are known to have blackballed job candidates who automatically season their food without first checking to see whether it’s already adequately seasoned.
  • Do your research about the organization and its culture. In our global economy, your job interview or business meeting may increasingly be with a company based on a completely different culture and with an entirely different set of norms. So, be prepared.

Absolute Dining Don’ts

Which are the worst dining etiquette screw ups committed by the beginners?

  • Arriving late. Make sure to always arrive a few minutes before the scheduled time
  • Speaking too loudly or monopolizing the conversation
  • Never let your cell phone ring, and never answer
  • Leaving purses or keys or sunglasses on the table
  • Elbows on the table
  • Chewing with your mouth open
  • When burping, just excuse yourself from the table and walk away
  • Eating too fast or too slowly
  • Picking your teeth - excuse yourself and go to the washroom
  • Touching your hair or face at the table
  • Reaching across the table - it’s always better to ask
  • Tasting someone else’s food
  • Blowing your nose
  • Wearing your hat while at the table
  • Starting to eat right away; always wait for everyone to be served first
  • Poor posture
  • Pushing away the plate or bowl when you’re done

Remember these dining etiquette tips and your good manners and you should be fine. It would be such a shame to mess up a great interview and solid resume just because you forgot your manners or you are not aware of some basic dining etiquette.

What other tips do you have? Share with us in the comments below.



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