In my campaigns class yesterday, I was lucky enough to hear a guest lecture about Business Etiquette - the lecturer came from a background of event planning and hospitality, and she also mentioned reading many books about the subject, so her advice seemed more than reliable.
While I think having an interview or meeting over a meal is probably one of the most scariest environments (yes, despite my politeness there are some minor things that are not appropriate that I wouldn't even realize,) the lecturer stressed that the main purpose is NOT the meal - it is the CONVERSATION. However, after choking on a piece of sushi in the middle of dinner last night at a public restaurant with my boyfriend, I couldn't help but worry about other embarrassing things that might go on during dinner meetings (regardless of how great your conversation may be)!
I went home and looked at some different Websites about dining etiquette, not only because I worry about myself, but I think the topic is very interesting and is often not stressed enough to students looking for jobs. YOU are the center of attention, so dining with a potential employer can give you the opportunity to either make or break an opportunity.
Some very interesting things I learned from the lecture and from other etiquette sites:
1. NO ALCOHOL!!!!
2. Eat light - avoid messy foods, even if you have to go through the drive-thru on the way home
3. When eating soup, bring the spoon away and then towards you and sip from the side of the spoon
4. If someone asks for the salt, pass both the salt AND the pepper
5. Can I use my fingers?
Berries, if served with the stem
Caviar on toast
Cheese on crackers
Corn on the cob
French fries (informal situations only)
Berries without stems
Ice cream served on cake or pie
Large chicken pieces
Sushi (or use chopsticks, if provided)
6. Know which plates, utensils, and glasses are yours, and know what each of them are meant for.
7. Order something you are familiar with
8. Even if you are invited to a meal, bring money just in case.
9. Try your best to make the other person feel comfortable.
10. FOCUS ON THE CONVERSATION (as difficult as it may be)!