Don’t Be Late (or early!): 13 Etiquette Tips for Dining, Interviews, and All Things Social

Posted by on February 20, 2013

dining etiquette minnesota school of businessUnless you’ve attended Career Service’s Dining Etiquette Workshop, here’s something you probably don’t know – the proper place to put your purse while you are seated at a dinner table is behind you on the seat. So basically, the bigger the bag, the less room there is for you (perhaps it’s time to break out that new clutch you bought?).

Last Thursday, Minnesota School of Business-Richfield’s Career Services department hosted a Dining Etiquette Workshop. Lunch was catered in and the classroom was transformed with tables cloaked in cloths and centerpieces, offering a restaurant-style setting for the workshop.

Students were served lunch by staff and faculty while the presenters offered tips on dining etiquette. Shane Stenlund from Aerotek Staffing Agency was a guest speaker, offering tips on professionalism, interviews, and resumes in general.

dining etiquette minnesota school of business career services“One suggestion is the ‘mirroring’ technique,” Shane said. “People tend to hire people like themselves. So order something similar off the menu because it offers the ability for you to connect.”

In regard to interviews in general, Shane said, “Being over-prepared is just about the right amount of preparation.”

Since nearly 80 percent of second interviews involve a business meal, knowing proper dining etiquette isn’t just helpful – it’s necessary. As Career Services made clear in their presentation, an interview is always an interview, regardless of how relaxed or informal the setting.

“Don’t be too focused on your meal when ordering it or eating it,” said Sara Shore, MSB-Richfield’s director of career services.”The meal is secondary. It’s really a chance to get to know the person. If you are a person who needs to study the menu, look it up online beforehand.”

dining etiquette minnesota school of business career servicesHere’s something else you might not know – arriving early is just about as bad as arriving late. If you’ve ever hosted a party or holiday dinner, you probably know the scrambling and chaos that occurs that last hour before the planned start time. You also know what it feels like when you hear the doorbell ring 15 minutes before anyone is supposed to show up. Your hair isn’t fixed, the appetizers aren’t set up, and your heart stops.

Cursing might ensue, orders are barked at your significant other, and toys are kicked under beds and in closets. Moral of the story: Be on time (or a few minutes early) – you won’t impress anyone if you show up 30 minutes early to a meeting or interview (or party!).

“I signed up [for the workshop] because I wanted to learn. A fork is a fork to me,” said business administration student Aaron Eggen.

Here are some other dining etiquette rules you need to know:

  • Never cut more than three bites at one time
  • Use silverware from the outside in
  • To indicate you have finished eating a meal, place silverware together on your plate in a clock position of ten to four, with the handles at four
  • Put your napkin on your lap as soon as you are seated
  • Pass salt and pepper as a set
  • Never put silverware on the table surface after it has been used – lay it on the butter plate
  • Eat at the same pace as your host
  • Keep the conversation light and positive. Avoid topics like politics or religion
  • Never request seconds. Accept them graciously if they are offered
  • When you are finished eating, put your loosely folded napkin on the left side of your plate
  • No elbows on the table

Thanks to Career Services and Shane from Aerotek for hosting the workshop. It was informative and fun for the students (and staff!).


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