When a Prospective Employer Invites You to Dinner, Don’t Do This!

When some people have a lot on their mind, and need to clear their heads to make proper decisions, they exercise, go to the movies, read, shop, whatever. My choice is to go to a nice restaurant, with good food, good service, at a fair price. And so I did.

I was looking forward to a quiet dinner. I arrived. Was escorted to a table. And a minute or two later a husband, his wife, their (I think) 11-12 year old daughter, and a man probably in his mid-thirties arrived. I did not mean to eavesdrop but my antenna went up when I heard Dad say,

“Joe, relax. This is not part of the interview.”

Dad lied. Everything is part of the interview.

A pleasant conversation no doubt followed which I ignored because I was reading a very good book on Winston Churchill by Boris Johnson, the UK’s new foreign minister. But then the waitress – sorry, server – arrived, and asked about drinks.

Mom ordered first, followed by daughter, and then Joe. Joe ordered a beer.

They then surveyed the menus and when the young lady returned they ordered their meals.

Joe asked Dad something about his company. He received a vague response. Dad asked Mom about something or other. They had a conversation. Then Daughter asked Joe a question about where he was from. Joe responded with the name of the city. Period. End of conversation.

Then Joe returned his attention to Dad asking questions about the job he was clearly certain he was going to get.

By now, as I usually do in these cases, I had taken a notepad out of my pocket because I knew I had an LinkedIn article in the making and did not want to forget anything.

Joe excused himself to go to the Men’s Room. Daughter asked Dad if Joe was going to get the job. Dad said no. She asked him why. He gave four reasons:

1) He ordered a beer.

2) He talked business in a public place.

3) He ignored Mommy.

4) He ignored you.

At this stage Dad realized something was up because I had a big grin on my face. So I introduced myself and said, “You missed two other reasons not to hire him.”

“What?” Dad inquired.

First, he believed you when you told him to relax and that the dinner was not part of the interview. And second, he said neither please nor thank you when ordering or receiving his drink or food.

At that point, Joe returned and I went back to reading about Churchill.

I don’t know if I am going to get a new executive recruiting client as a result of my dinner at that restaurant, but I know Joe is still looking for a new job!


Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter, career counselor and business advisor. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over a quarter of a million times and have garnered national and international media attention.  In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador. An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and his upcoming speaking engagements.