Mind your manners, land a job

10:12, March 01, 2010      

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Guess who's taking you to dinner? It just might be your next employer, as some companies are giving up the traditional face-to-face interview at an office desk and trading it for a restaurant table.

Ye Ting, an English major at Nanchang University in Jiangxi Province, said that without performing well at her "dinner interview," she would have never landed her current job.

In early January, Ye went to interview with a local foreign trade company. After all the six other applicants arrived, the interviewer suddenly announced that he would like to treat them all for dinner.

"Thanks to the books I studied up on about etiquette beforehand, I knew I should take my seat from the left side, leaving the seat opposite the door for to the most important person," said Ye.

These interviews can make or break your chances at a job. Chen Ke, a public administration senior at Wuhan Media and Communications College of Huazhong Normal University, told the Global Times how he "failed" such an interview last month.

After passing a preliminary interview with a Wuhan-based Internet company in Hubei Province, Chen and three other applicants, one girl and two boys, were taken to lunch at a nearby restaurant with the director of the company.

"The director was so polite and friendly to us that we all thought we got the job," he said. "One boy directly took a seat beside the director, put his arm around his shoulder and handed him a cigarette, talking and laughing as if they two were brothers."

"Only the girl bowed to the director and did not take her seat until everyone else sat down. During the lunch, she kept pouring us tea. When making a toast, she made sure to touch glasses lower than the director. She even told jokes to liven up conversation. She was really at ease and confidant," he said.

Chen, however, who prepared beforehand by studying and practicing his English, was nervous, and barely talked throughout the meal.

"Afterward, I realized that the interviewer wanted to see how we were when more relaxed," he said. "We didn't know we were being interviewed. But after lunch, we were told that only the girl was admitted. After one lunch all my efforts came to nothing."

Ba Ran, a senior HR advisor of zhaopin.com, explains both the advantages and disadvantages of the dinner interviews.

In professions such as media and IT business, employers are not only required to have technical skills but also excellent social and communication skills when engaging with clients.

"So, the dinner table is the best place to practice or demonstrate one's socializing ability," she said.

"On the other hand, a dinner cannot replace an official interview, which focuses more on professional experiences and technical skills."

"Otherwise people who can just socialize and pull strings would have an even greater advantage."

Source: Global Times(By Liu Meng)
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