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Dining Etiquette

Whether you are attending a networking event or an employer is observing how you might conduct yourself with a potential client during a meal or a social situation, table manners and good behaviors are essential skills. Stand out as a professional by following some simple guidelines.

Practice makes perfect, or at least will keep your hands from shaking as you cut your meat. 

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The Basics

Networking/Social Hour

  • It is always better to stand and be ready to greet colleagues
  • Keep one hand free for a handshake or to exchange business cards
  • Make good eye contact, introducing yourself to the host/hostess
  • Avoid approaching groups of two in deep conversation - Wait for a break to keep from interrupting!
  • Ask people questions about themselves, the perfect ice-breaker!
  • Always offer your contact information and make a graceful exit from conversations 

The Arrival

  • Always be on time - on time is at least 5 minutes early
  • Don't place any items on the table (bags, purse, wallet, cell phone)
  • Good posture is key and keep those elbows off the table
  • If you arrive with a suit jacket on, it stays on!

Table Setting

  • Not sure what utensil to use? Start from the outside and work your way in
  • Don't waive utensils around when talking
  • Rest your utensils on your plate rather than the table
  • Put your napkin on your lap soon after being seated and place it in your chair if you leave the table and will be returning

During The Meal

  • Remember - This is not about the food!  Relax, listen and participate in the conversation
  • Don't order messy food or the most expensive item on the menu
  • Avoid alcohol, even if the interviewer orders a drink
  • Wait for everyone to be served before eating, unless the interviewer insists on you starting
  • Pass food items to the right (bread, salad dressing)
  • Spoon soup away from you and tear your bread into small pieces, only buttering the piece you are consuming
  • Always taste your food before seasoning it

The Conclusion

  • When finished, leave your plate(s) in position and do not push them aside or stack
  • Lay your service-ware across the plate at 10:00 & 4:00 to indicate that you are finished with your meal
  • Thank your host/hostess