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Avoiding Dining Dilemmas Pt. II

Today we're focusing on more ways you can be successful when dining with employers. If you missed Avoiding Dining Dilemmas Pt. I, you can read it here.

Students often ask questions concerning proper etiquette for occasions such as dining with a potential employer during an on-site interview. In an earlier blog, I discussed avoiding common dining dilemmas (see link above). I wanted to provide additional tips that will help you avoid some other common issues.

As soon as you are seated, place the napkin across your lap. The napkin should remain folded with the fold pointed toward you. If you need to leave the table for any reason, place the napkin on your chair. Once the meal is finished, place the napkin to the left side of your plate. You should never place the napkin on your table until you have finished eating your meal. Be sure to use your napkin from time to time to discreetly pat – not wipe - your mouth.

When eating any type of sandwich, be sure to cut it in half. A full sandwich required two hands to eat, and it may appear that you are stuffing your face with food. By cutting a sandwich in half, you can eat it with one hand and avoid creating a negative impression.

If you need to remove food from your mouth, the standard rule is that you remove the item the same way it got in. If you remove an item you picked up with your fingers, use your fingers to remove the food. If you remove an item you used a fork to eat, remove the food from your mouth with the fork by slipping the fork back to your lips.

Has anyone ever asked you, “Please pass the salt?” If so, did you know that proper etiquette requires you to pass both the salt AND pepper? Salt and pepper are considered married items. This means that if you pass one to someone else, you also should pass the other. This way, both items are always together whenever someone else may need them. Another example of married items would be cream and sugar. You should always sample your food before adding seasoning, as it should be assumed the food was properly seasoned when it was prepared. Season your food only after you have tasted it first.

Speaking of passing items to others at the table, do you know the proper way to pass items? You should always pass items to the person to your right. The reason you should do this is so items continually flow in one direction. You want to avoid the dilemma of someone receiving something from their right and left sides at the same time. By passing everything to the right, you will avoid this situation from occurring. Likewise, you should never reach across the table. If something is out of reach, politely ask someone to pass it to you.

When you have finished eating each course, lay your knife and fork separately at 45-degree angles across your plate. This provides a signal to the server that you are finished eating what is in front of you and they can remove your plate.

These tips should help you make your dining experience with a potential employer both professional and enjoyable.

"Our first impressions are generated by our experiences and our environment, which means that we can change our first impressions . . . by changing the experiences that comprise those impressions."
— Malcolm Gladwell

Authored by Dean Pidcock.