should you accept an alcoholic drink during a job interview?

A reader writes:

I’m employed at a university in the deep South. I recently attended an orientation session for students nearing the end of their schooling. One of the speakers at the orientation was from the career center, and she was promoting their services, which includes interview prep. As an example of what they can teach students, she asked the students if they knew what to do if they were offered an alcoholic drink during an interview dinner when everyone else is having one. “The answer,” she said, “is NEVER, EVER take a drink! You NEVER drink during an interview!”

I immediately thought, “Whoops.” I know you’ve addressed what to do if you don’t want to drink at an interview, but is it acceptable to have a drink with dinner if everyone else is having one and they offer you one? It seems like a collegial thing to do, if you want to and you’re of age. What do you think?

The speaker probably overstated the case a bit, but yeah, basically I agree with her — don’t drink alcohol during a job interview. This is not the time to lower your inhibitions or mellow out with a drink. You want to be at your absolute best, and you don’t want to impact your judgment at all.

If you’re at a group dinner where everyone else is having a drink and you fear you’ll seem judgy if you don’t order one too, then I suppose you could order one glass of wine and nurse it all night … although I’d strongly recommend that you also get a glass of water as well, and mainly drink that.

If you’re not convinced, there’s also this: Researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania did a study that found that job candidates who drank alcoholic beverages during an interview were perceived as less intelligent and less hireable than those who didn’t, even when the interviewer ordered an alcoholic drink first — and even if the interviewer ordered the drink for the candidate.

So I’d avoid the alcohol. Let an iced tea or soda be your friend.

Anyone disagree and want to argue for drinking during an interview?

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