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by the Culture and Manners Institute

One question students have been asking in the dining tutorials lately is: “If I have an interview meal, should I offer to pay the bill or at least pay for myself?”

I understand the thinking behind that.
“I want the interviewer to see I am a nice person.”
“I would buy the interviewer a Thanksgiving dinner to get this job.”
“I’m highly competitive and I’ve never lost a fight over a check.”

The answer: No, you should not offer to pay. The interviewer has invited you, so the interviewer should pay.

Whoever does the inviting, pays. If you invite someone out for a meal or coffee for an informational interview, you would pay the bill.

More Interview Meal reminders:
* Wait for the interviewer to tell you where to sit.
* If someone approaches your table and the interviewer introduces you, stand up to greet that person.
* You order first, interviewer orders second.
* Order something inexpensive (so you won’t look like someone who will drive up the expense account); something neat; and something familiar (don’t order turtle soup if you’ve never had turtle soup.)
* Talk business after you place your order.
* Taste your food before you season it.
* Try not to send things back.
* Keep pace with your interviewer — don’t finish too far ahead or too far behind.
* No doggy bag… your dog never has to know.
* If you only make it through half your meal, remember, you are there to do business first and eat second.
* Kill the wait staff with kindness — it’s a reflection of how you will treat others in the workplace.

Don’t forget to follow up with a thank you note.

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