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Pace University Career Services

Read on for tips to successful dining etiquette


INTRODUCTION: As part of the interview process, typically the second interview, you may be invited to lunch or dinner with the employer. Employers look for good communication and interpersonal skills and a meal is an excellent place to show off such qualities. WATER

THE TABLE:

WHITE WINE RED WINE

BUTTER SPREADER

SOUP BOWL BREAD & BUTTER PLATE

SALAD FORK

SOUP SPOON

DINNER FORK

TEASPOON

DESSERT FORK

DINNER KNIFE DINNER PLATE


SMALL TALK:

DURING THE MEAL:

Small talk is simply conversation about everyday happenings, which everyone can participate in. Be prepared to converse! • • • • • •

• If your place is set with more than one fork, begin from the outside and work your way in. • When looking at the place setting in front of you, remember: solids on your left (bread Project a positive and friendly attitude – plate), liquids on your right (water, ice tea, always smile, maintain eye contact and nod coffee). your head. • Hold cutlery correctly. Sustain the conversation by asking questions • Cut your meat or meal one piece at a time; and listening carefully. avoid dicing it into bite-sized pieces all at Change subjects tactfully. once. Topics to discuss: weather, sports, movies, • Cut your salad into bite-sized pieces. books, immediate environment. • Watch out for bones or pits to avoid an Topics to avoid: politics, religion, sexuality. awkward situation. Discussions usually do not revolve around • With dinner rolls, break off and butter one business talk. small piece of bread at a time on the plate; avoid making a sandwich. • When sharing a sauce with others, spoon some of it onto your plate; don’t dip your food into it. Shake hands with all present at the table. If • Pass food to the right. necessary, introduce yourself. Concentrate on • Pass salt and pepper together, handling near remembering your host/hostess’ name. the base. Remain standing until host/hostess takes • When you speak, put your silverware on your seat. plate, not on the table. Place your napkin on your lap after everyone • If you need to leave the table temporarily, is seated. Keep your napkin on your lap until place your napkin on your seat. the entire meal is finished. Let the host take the lead when ordering; this will give you an idea of what to eat. If they order an appetizer, order one. If they order a soft drink, you should too. • When you are finished eating, place the knife Review the menu and decide what you want and fork prongs down side by side on the to order quickly. plate with the handles at 4 Order foods that are easy to eat such as • o’clock; the waiter will understand this as the chicken, fish, or salads. Avoid sloppy hard “I am finished” position. to eat foods like spaghetti or ribs and do not • When you are finished with the meal, place order the most expensive item on the menu. your napkin to the left of your plate. • Make sure you thank the host for the meal. • Shake hands with the recruiter before you leave and maintain good eye contact.

BEFORE THE MEAL: • • • •

• •

AFTER THE MEAL:


DOS

DON’TS

• Dress professionally

• Don’t ask the waiter to explain everything on

• Sit up straight

the menu

• Keep your elbows off the table

• Don’t order the most expensive item on the

• Say “please” and “thank you”

menu

• Maintain good eye contact

• Don’t order alcohol or smoke cigarettes

• Strive to come across as relaxed, friendly

• Don’t use toothpicks in the presence of the

and interested; stay upbeat and positive

recruiter

• Take your time eating, talking and listening

• Don’t lick your utensils or fingers

• Drink a glass of juice before the meal to

• Don’t order unfamiliar food, sloppy or hard to

stabilize your blood sugar and keep you from

eat foods that require using your fingers

starving

• Don’t slurp your soup or beverages

• Drink from your own water glass; it’s to your

• Don’t dip your food into a bowl others have

right

to use

• Use this opportunity to gather more

• Don’t ask others for leftovers; “Are you

information about the career field, corporate

eating those fries?”

culture and duties

• Don’t speak with your mouth full

• Employers view the meal as a time to judge

• Don’t argue over the check or offer to pay

how the candidate interacts with others.

the tip; the host who invited you must take care of both

*

Remember you are making an impression at the meal as at the interview. Table manners count so be sure you take dining etiquette seriously.

Information Source: Barbara Pachter of Pachter & Associates; The Hope Heart Institute Newsletter, Seattle, WA, April 1998 NACE Job Choice 1997


Business Dining Etiquette