Rule #7 – Place your napkin in your lap.
The dry cleaner removed the dressing stain, but the white splotch was prominent for the rest of the day.
Rule #8 – Swallow your food before answering questions.
Yes, just like you were taught as a child – don’t talk with your mouth full.
As my unlikely boss (“potential” was too optimistic a word as this point) took his napkin from his lap and wiped the green spec from his forehead, I simply said “My bad. Sorry about that.” My bad indeed.
Because I realized my chewing and talking at the same time error, I hardly touched my salad so I could answer questions.
When the waitress came around, I smartly passed on dessert. Then I asked for a doggy bag. I had over a half of a salad left, so seemed the prudent thing to do.
As a result I had the pleasure of carrying a doggy bag to my next three interviews, which resulted in snide comments in every single one such as “So, you brought me your leftovers?”
Rule #9 - No doggy bag.
I managed to leave the restaurant without any more blunders (that I can remember) and proceeded with the rest of my interviews. I wondered why my interviewers seemed a bit distracted and couldn’t quite look at me without smiling.
In my last interview with a very nice older lady, she gave me a concerned look.
“Oh, dear. You really should take a trip to the men’s room and have a look in the mirror.”
So I uncomfortably excused myself and with a building panic made my way to the mirror in the bathroom. To my horror, I saw the huge white splotch on my pants. And as my onion soup began to sickly churn in my stomach, I saw a huge piece of dark green lettuce stuck between my two front teeth.
Rule #10 – Visit the restroom after lunch to do a teeth check – especially if eating a salad.
I didn’t get a job offer. Shocking, right? Maybe it was because I flubbed an answer on database normalization. Or maybe it was clear I wasn’t quite polished or even mature enough to be a part of their team.
The problem was, I let my guard down during lunch. During my office interviews I remember being polite, charming and had great answers to most questions. I learned the hard way that interviews start from the time you walk in the door until you leave to go home.
Everything you say and do in between is open to scrutiny.
I had nightmares about flying broccoli bits for a very long time.