Recently a young woman asked if being a vegetarian would be a problem in the business world. She was looking for work and expressing concern about what to order when her interviews take place at restaurants.
One time she had told the interviewer she wasn’t hungry and didn’t order anything. But by not eating, she felt excluded from the other people at the table. She stood out, she said, but in a bad way.
Another time she ordered a vegetable plate, but it turned out to be small plate of vegetables. The interviewer became very concerned about her meal and encouraged her to order more. She felt uncomfortable since his attention was being focused on her food choice and not on her skills.
I suggested that in the future she or anyone with dietary restrictions order a double house salad as a main course. It is usually served on a larger dinner plate and will often look like a main entree. A plate of pasta can also work.
Another suggestion is to check out the restaurant’s menu ahead of time to see if there is anything suitable to eat. You’ll appear finicky if you spend a lot of time at the table trying to decide your order. The menu is usually on the restaurant’s website. You can also call the restaurant to find out the ingredients in an item, if not able to eat certain foods because of allergies, or religious or health reasons.
Whether you are interviewing or entertaining customers during a meal, you can use the above suggestions to concentrate on business, not on your food choices.