Top 25 Table Manner Rules for Attorneys and Law Students during Lunch Interviews

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Summary: Tackle your next lunch interview as an attorney or law student that will show the interviewer that you not only have all the right qualifications, but table manners as well.
Use these tips to prepare for your next lunch interview with a law firm.

Lunch interviews may seem like an extra intense interview since you will be judged on your qualifications, skills, experience, and table manners, but there are positives as well. The proper etiquette rules your mother told you as a child still apply. Don’t talk with food in your mouth. Don’t put your elbows on the table. Sit up straight to show your confidence. Use a napkin, not your hand or shirt sleeve. There are some other guidelines you should follow during a lunch interview that you probably weren’t aware of. Here are 25 rules to follow:
  1. If you know the name of the restaurant beforehand, look it up to double check the location and look at their menu so you can decide what to order now.
  2. The morning of the interview, read the headlines so that you will have things to talk about during the meal.
  3. Dress the same as you would for a normal interview.
  4. Try to arrive at the restaurant first and wait in the lobby, not at the bar.
  5. Whenever you do arrive, check to see if the other members of the party have already arrived.
  6. Place your napkin on your lap once everyone has been seated at the table and don’t open your menu until everyone is seated.
  7. The interviewer will likely let you order your drink first. Stick to non-alcoholic drinks such as sparkling water or even iced tea, depending on where you live.
  8. Whatever drink you order, do not drink straight from the bottle or through a straw.
  9. When you order the entrée, stick to an item with an average price. Avoid the most expensive and cheapest items on the menu. Also avoid food that is excessively smelly, crunchy, large, or difficult to eat. Things like spaghetti, fried chicken, lobster, ribs, sloppy joes, or tacos would not be a good choice because you cannot eat them with a knife and fork gracefully.
  10. Order your food quickly and with little fuss to the server.
  11. This is a good time to mention to the interviewer that you brought your portfolio or other papers so that they can decide when they want to see them.
  12. Be extra polite to the server. Now is not a good time to yell at them for dripping water when they refill your glass.
  13. If there is something wrong with your order, don’t worry about it. This meal is about your interview, not about the food.
  14. Don’t eat your food too fast. Don’t eat excessively slow either.
  15. No matter how many utensils there may be at your place setting, follow the rule of “outside in.”
  16. To determine which place is for bread and butter, remember the BMW Rule – Bread plate, Main course, and Water.
  17. Eat your dinner roll by breaking it into small pieces. Don’t wipe your plate with the bread.
  18. Unless crackers are served already in your soup, don’t add them.
  19. To remove unwanted food from your mouth such as fish bones or an olive pit, remember “What goes in with a utensil comes out with the same utensil.”
  20. Be sure to eat something even though you are most likely nervous.
  21. Don’t take home leftovers.
  22. Only order dessert if the interviewer does.
  23. When you are finished, fold your napkin nicely next to your plate. Don’t wad it up.
  24. Be thankful to the interviewer for paying for the meal. Mention it again in your thank you card.
  25. The most important thing: Lunch interviews give you a perfect opportunity to think about your answer while you chew your food. There should be no bad answers since you can think about them before you respond. This being said, don’t take enormously large bites of food so that you have a long time to think. Take small bites that will give you a few seconds to gather your thoughts while you swallow.

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Photo: flickr.com

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