Proper etiquette is essential for making a positive impression at lunch and/or dinner interviews as well as in social business situations. Although common sense is often your best guide, the following guidelines will help you stand out as a sophisticated professional. Keep in mind that these guidelines are only appropriate in western culture.
Greetings and Introductions
- When you meet a person for the first time, be sure to make eye contact with them and smile. If you are sitting down, stand up and extend your hand to shake theirs firmly.
- While shaking hands when introducing yourselves to each other, repeat the other person’s name in your greeting (i.e. “Pleased to meet you Mr. Jones).
- In a business situation, introduce the people according to their professional title (i.e. junior to senior).
- If you are given a nametag to wear, make sure you place the name tag in the area below your right shoulder.
- Also, make sure your name is neatly printed and easy to read.
Reception and Social Hour
During this allotted time, the purpose is usually meant to network for jobs and to entertain clients. Try to follow the lead of the other individuals in the room with you. Also, try to follow some of these basic tips:
- While standing, have only a drink or food in one hand, never in both hands.
- Hold your drink in your left hand incase you have to shake hands with anyone; you will have a dry hand to extend.
- If you are eating, hold the plate in your right hand and eat with your left hand, just incase someone approaches you, you can switch the plate to your left hand and shake the other person’s hand with your clean right hand.
- It is permissible to eat and drink while sitting, but it is better to stand and greet others.
- Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to the host and/or hostess of the gather to network. Be sure to never interrupt their conversation, therefore, wait for a break and then introduce yourself.
- Ask the people you meet questions about themselves and the kind of work they do. Be sure to make eye contact with them.
It is extremely important to use proper table manners during a meal to make a lasting good impression.
When you are presented with a large selection of eating utensils, remember to “start from the outside and work your way in.”
- Soon after sitting down at the table, you should put your napkin down on your lap. However, be sure to follow the lead of the host and/or hostess.
- The napkin should stay on your lap throughout the duration of the meal. If for some reason you need to leave, be sure to place your napkin on the left of your plate or on your chair. The waiter and/or waitress will know that you will be returning.
- If the host places their napkin on the table, this represents the end of the meal and you should also place your napkin immediately on the table.
Ordering & Being Served
- It is not appropriate to order the most expensive item from the menu. It is also not appropriate to order appetizers or desserts. This is only done when the host encourages your to order these items from the menu.
- It is usually the best idea to not order alcohol, even if the interviewer orders alcohol. If you do order alcohol, be sure to drink it in moderation.
- Avoid ordering items that are messy and hard to eat (i.e. spaghetti and French onion soup).
- Make sure everyone at the table has their meal before being to eat. Only start eating if the individual who has not been served encourages your to start eating without them.
During the Meal
- Eat slowly and only cut small bites off of your food at a time.
- Chew with your mouth closed and do not speak to others while you have food in your mouth.
- Pass all food items to the person on your right. If you are the one starting the passing of the bread basket, it is proper to offer the person to your left some bread, take some for yourself, and then pass the bread to the person on your right.
- Bread should be eaten by tearing off small pieces and buttering them individually. Be sure you do not cut your bread with your knife or eat it whole.
- Salt and pepper should be passed together and should be passed with one in each hand. If you are asked to pass the salt and pepper, do not use them before passing them to someone else.
- Be sure to taste your food before adding salt and pepper.
- Do not use more than two packets of sweetener per meal.
- Do not clean your plate. It is proper to leave a few bites of food on your plate.
When You Finish Your Meal
- When you have finished eating your meal, do not push your plate aside or stack them on top of each other. It is proper to leave the plate sitting where they are currently.
- Be sure to lay your knife and fork side by side on the plate to they point to the 10:00 and 4:00 positions if you were to be looking at a clock face. This tells the waiter and/or waitress you have completed your meal.
- The person who initiated the idea of the meal is usually the one who pays for everything.
- Always remember to thank your host and/or hostess.