Don't Slurp Your Soup

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					Don’t Slurp Your Soup!
And Other Dinner Etiquette Survival Tips
Interviewing for a job is stressful by itself. Add trying to eat while interviewing and, for some of us, the stress doubles. If your definition of formal dining means not using plastic utensils, then you may benefit from this information. Why should you care? Because how well you handle interviewing in a social environment reveals to the employer your level of poise and confidence. Without proper etiquette, bad manners can turn into bad business. If you don’t know which fork to use or which direction to pass the butter, don’t panic, because ultimately, the most important thing is that you are confident, comfortable and attentive to the dinner conversation. Use this opportunity to build rapport with the interviewer and any other employees who are attending. Potentially, these people may become your co-workers and friends. Most dinner interviews are conducted as a second interview, and they give the interviewer the opportunity to see you in a different environment, and to learn how well you handle yourself in case you are expected to take clients to dinner.

Top Three Tips
l. Always follow the host’s lead concerning conversation and formality. Don’t sit before your host does, don’t open your menu first, and don’t eat until your host begins. In fact, you need to wait for everyone at the table to be served before beginning. When ordering, notice what your host orders and make sure your meal is not more expensive. If the host asks you to order first, ask him or her for recommendations. 2. Take small bites. If you stuff your mouth full of food, it’s inevitable someone will choose that moment to ask you a question. Make your bite sizes manageable, and swallow before you speak. Also, when ordering, select food that is easy to eat. Spaghetti, for example, can be challenging, and you don’t want to end up wearing your meal. Avoid exotic foods with which you are unfamiliar. 3. Don’t eat too fast. The meal isn’t a race. Not only could gulping your food cause you to choke, it also sends the employer the message that either you are gluttonous or you lack social skills. Never take a drink while you still have food in your mouth.

Place Setting for a Formal Dinner Table

Make a Good Impression
o o o o o o o o o o If you are to meet your interviewer at the restaurant, be early or on time. “Fashionably late” is not appropriate for a dinner interview. The employer will pay for the meal. You do not need to offer to pay. Put your napkin in your lap within ten seconds after being seated. In some formal settings, the waiter may place the napkin in your lap when seating you. Don’t order alcohol. Even if the interviewer drinks an alcoholic beverage, your refraining shows self discipline. Watch your posture: don’t slouch, slump, or tip your chair backwards. When not eating, rest your hands in your lap or forearms on the edge of the table, but keep your elbows off the table. When you take a bite, bring your food to your mouth, not your head to the plate. Don’t hide behind your menu. Don’t smoke or chew gum. Don’t make inappropriate comments, such as telling offensive jokes, talking about your love interest(s), or badmouthing previous employers. Pass food to the right. If passing salt and/or pepper, always pass them together (even if asked for only one). If passing an item with a handle, pass with the handle toward the next person. For bowls or platters with serving utensils, pass with the utensil handle ready for the next person. Don’t cut more than one or two pieces of meat at a time, and don’t blow on your food. Don’t use your fingers to push food onto your fork. Taste your food before deciding to add salt and pepper. If condiments are not on the table, it is not polite to ask for them. Break your bread into bite-sized portions one at a time to butter and eat. When eating soup, spoon the soup away from you and sip it–without slurping–from the side of the Don’t stick the entire spoon in your mouth, and if the soup is too hot to eat, let it cool. Don’t blow on it.

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Don’t fidget with your cutlery. When you are speaking, rest your utensils on the plate (tines down). Once you have used a utensil, never let it touch the table again. This also includes not leaning a fork or knife against the plate. When finished eating, place your fork and knife on the plate, next to each other, sharp side of knife facing in, and handles in a four o’clock position on the plate. If you have food left over, leave it; don’t ask for a doggy bag.

Remember, the word “etiquette” is derived from the French word for “ticket,” and the etiquette skills you demonstrate to an employer could very well be your ticket into the job for which you are interviewing!

Would you pass the Etiquette Test?
Question: How do you lay a large napkin in your lap? Answer: if the napkin is a large dinner napkin, fold it in half to lay on your lap. Generally, luncheon napkins are smaller, so they may be opened all the way before being laid on the lap. Question: Is it acceptable to distribute business cards during a meal? Answer: No, business cards should not be exchanged during a meal, even if the meal is informal Question: Where do you put your napkin at the end of the meal? Answer: When you are finished eating, lay your napkin of the left of your place setting. If you plate has been collected, lay the napkin in the center of your setting area. Do not refold the napkin. Question: Where do you place the finder bowl when you finish cleaning your fingers? Answer: First of all, kudos for realizing this isn’t a cup of water for drinking! Although the finder bowl has become a rarity, when it is presented, it will be either before or after the dessert course, and often you will find a slice of lemon floating in it. Gently dip your fingers in the water and dry them with your napkin. Don’t scrub; the dinner table isn’t a washstand. When you finish cleansing your fingers, wet the bowl to the upper left side of your place setting. Question: Is it acceptable to share your food with other at the table so they may sample it? Answer: Yes, it is acceptable when other are willing to share. However, request small plates and clean utensils for dividing the food. Question: With emphasis on gender equality, should men help seat women or open doors for them? Answer: neither men nor women should be helped with their chairs unless they need help. As for opening doors, whoever gets to the door first (and it should be the low person on the corporate ladder) should open it for others. Question: If you wear a name tag, does it go on your right or left side? Answer: It goes high up on the right side. As you shake hands, the other person’s eyes are led up your arm to your name tag and prevents the person from having to search awkwardly for the name tag. Question: What do you do if you spill something? Answer: Quickly apologize and don’t make a big deal over it. Use your napkin to prevent the spill from spreading to your neighbor and enlist the waiter’s assistance. If the spill gets on someone’s clothing, offer t pay the dry cleaning.

*Adapted from the Missouri State University “Dinner Etiquette” feature of the Career Services website.

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