When you have dinner with a prospective employer, remember the primary focus is not the food. The meal is part of the job interview—and there are ways to make sure you don’t get eaten.
In an effort to help students transition from school to the workforce, the BYU Student Alumni Association created the BYU Alumni Professional Etiquette Dinner. “This popular evening has become a sitting-room-only event,” says Curtis C. Isaak (BA ’92, MA ’98), Student Alumni advisor.
At the biannual dinner, business-etiquette specialist Anna Allen King (BA ’97, MBA ’00), former director of BYU Human Resource Development, guides participants through a four-course meal and teaches them manners for mealtime. She shares 10 dos and don’ts:
1. Wait until everyone at the table has been served before you begin eating. However, if the person with no food says to go ahead and eat, feel free to begin your meal.
2. Prepare three or four “harmless questions” that would open conversation comfortably.
3. Study your flatware and eat from the outside in.
4. Spoon your soup away from you. When it’s nearly gone you may tip your bowl away from you to spoon out the rest.
5. Pretend not to notice if someone at your table has bad table manners, has trouble eating a certain food, or accidentally drops a utensil or piece of food.
6. Don’t bring your cell phone—or at least turn it off.
7. Don’t ask for a doggie bag for any leftover food.
8. Don’t worry about whether or not someone wants to get to know you. It’s enough that you want to get to know him or her.
9. If you don’t like the food, or if you feel a bit queasy, don’t make an issue of it. Simply move the food around your plate and bring your fork to your mouth occasionally.
10. Don’t gesture with utensils in your hand. This is not a duel.