Dining on the Internship: The Do’s and Don’ts of Business Dining Etiquette

Dining on the internship/job is just another way for employers to see how you behave in a social setting. So whether you’re going to lunch with a few of your coworkers or dining with your boss, it’s important to remember to always conduct yourself professionally and properly. To be successful in your internship, your dining etiquette during a business meal must match your office etiquette.

Here are some guidelines and tips to make the best impression possible at your next business meal.
BEFORE THE MEAL
• If you’re dining with people you have never met before, make sure to introduce yourself and shake everyone’s hand present at the table
• Remain standing until your host/boss has been seated
• Place your napkin in your lap only after the host/boss has done so
• Follow your host’s lead when ordering and make sure to avoid ordering messy foods like spaghetti
• Whether you’re of the legal age or not, it’s smart to avoid drinking alcohol during a business meal. However if for some reason you must drink, limit yourself to only one glass

DURING THE MEAL
• During the meal, make sure to sit up straight and keep your feet flat on the floor
• When passing a bread basket, offer it to the person on your left and pass it to the person on your right
• Only cut one piece of food at a time
• When you aren’t using your silverware, place it back on your plate
• When talking with others at your table, make eye contact and never speak with a full mouth
• If you must leave the table during the meal, place your napkin in your seat

AFTER THE MEAL
• When you are finished with your meal, place your knife and fork in the center of your plate turned to the four o’clock position
• Once you get up from your seat, gently place your napkin on the table in front of your chair
• If the host or boss insists on paying for your meal, politely thank them and don’t argue over the check
• Always thank your host/boss for the meal before leaving and to show your appreciation, write a handwritten note within the next day or so

HELPFUL HINTS
• When in doubt of what utensil to use, always work from the outside in
• When eating soup, always scoop away from yourself to avoid spills
• If you don’t want coffee, simply turn the cup upside down on its plate
• Always pass the salt and pepper together
• No matter how hungry you may be, take your time eating and match the pace of the people you’re dining with
• Don’t ask for a takeout bag; you don’t want to stink up someone’s car or the office

For more advice on business dining etiquette, refer to these websites below:
http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2010/04/21/25-tips-for-acing-the-lunch-interview
http://www.udel.edu/CSC/pdf/BusinessDiningEtiquette.pdf

Sources:
http://www.businessinsider.com/rules-of-dining-etiquette-2012-4?op=1

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