Reader mail: Can I take the leftovers from my business lunch?

Can you take leftovers from a business lunch?

2017 Update: We still stand by this analysis of when you can take leftovers from a business lunch — links have also been updated below.  You may also want to check out our ultimate guide to business lunch etiquette.

Is a doggy bag is ever appropriate in a business context? Today’s reader wonders what the etiquette rule is on whether she can take leftovers from her business lunch…

I was wondering if it’s ever appropriate to get leftovers from business lunches or dinners wrapped up to go. The portion sizes at restaurants can be so large, and I hate having food go to waste (especially food from eating out!) but I am fairly junior and it may seem a bit much (as in grabby or greedy). Thoughts?

We agree, leaving leftover food is wasteful. However, we must caution against asking for a doggy bag (even if the restaurant will shape it into an amusing animal). You’re right, it does sound slightly grabby or greedy — particularly because it’s entirely possible to ascertain beforehand if the restaurant where you’re dining is one that believes in large portions, such as by looking around the room or asking the waiter — which means that taking leftovers might leave the impression that you either a) ordered for dinner as well as lunch, or b) just are not very observant. Neither are good things for the business lunch. [Read more…]

Urgent Reader Mail: What to wear to an interview/dinner?

Reader A writes in with an urgent request…

I sent in my cover letter + resume to a firm and was invited to a dinner with potentially 2+ members of the student hiring committee (I’m assuming other students were invited as well…) the restaurant is quite high end and I was wondering what recommendations you would have to wear. They didn’t mention a dress code. I’m thinking either: 1) A black dress + Black jacket OR 2) Black dress pants + dress shirt + black sweater over it.  What would be your choice?

Ultimately, this is an interview, and that means one thing to us:  full suit. Because it’s unclear, though, be prepared for the possibility that you will want to take off your jacket to be more casual.  So, for example, choose a suit where you like the pants by themselves, and choose a layer beneath the suit that has sleeves and looks professional.  A silk sweater would probably be our choice here, accessorized with pearls or other conservative (and good) jewelry.  (Pictured above:  August Silk Three-Quarter Sleeve Square Neck Sweater, available at Macy’s for $29.98 — we’d also recommend checking out your local Filene’s, TJ Maxx, or other discount store; for some reason they frequently have a wide variety of these silk sweaters.)

And yes, we did say pants — even though we’re normally huge fans of the skirt suit for interviews, because this is dinner, you want to avoid any appearance that you thought you were going on a date.  Go with a skirt if you want; we’d avoid a dress at all costs.

Readers, what say you? Also, do you have any other tips for the tricky dinner interview? We’ll point you to an older post we wrote about dining etiquette; we’d also advise drinking very little (one glass of wine at most) and ordering something easy to eat, like ravioli.

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