By Josh Christian, student writer, Office of University Communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Could good table manners help you get a job? Could bad table manners prevent you from getting one?
To both questions.
A salad fork on your farthest left, a dinner fork, a table knife and a table spoon on your farthest right only made up a small portion of a table set at the Campbellsville University networking dining etiquette program recently.
“Tonight we are in business mode. As you leave Campbellsville University, the third or fourth interview are usually over lunch or dinner,” Terri Thompson, business and social etiquette specialist, said.
“This is typically a little different than eating at Applebee’s. Tonight will be a bit more rigid,” Thompson said.
Thompson, of Paris, Ky., talked those in attendance through their entire meal, showing them the correct way they could eat a meal in a professional setting, like a business interview or meeting with clientele.
Even before the first instructions had been given, many attendees had already begun making mistakes.
“First, take your napkin, unfold it and fold it in half before you put it in your lap,” Thompson said.
Many faces were stunned as they had to take the napkin out of their laps and refold it in the correct way in which Thompson advised.
General etiquette rules also say that with a table of eight or less, the table waits for everyone to have their food before they eat, Thompson said.
Creamy potato soup was the first course served, and over the sloshy soup, many struggled to follow Thompson’s instructions.
When eating soup, it should be dipped away from the body, Thompson also explained.
“Whatever job we are interviewing for, we want it. So spill the soup anywhere but on your person,” Thompson said.
“The meal isn’t important. It’s how you get through the food that matters,” Thompson said.
Used utensils were also not allowed back on the table, instead Thompson advised that utensils be set back on the plate out of the way.
Rules were also involved in passing shared dishes like bread along with salt and pepper.
Everything was passed to the right, using both hands, and taking a portion of the shared dish before passing.
A fruit salad was served as the second course before the entree, boneless fried chicken, with mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole and baby carrots were brought out.
Thompson then instructed attendees on how to cut meat correctly.
Apple pie and chocolate pie were served for dessert along with coffee.
Students, who were seated at tables with professionals in their prospective career fields, were then left to network.
“I learned there is a lot more to eating than I ever realized,” Kasey Ricketts, Campbellsville University staff member and graduate student, said after the event.
“I now feel like if I were to go to lunch for an interview, I would be a lot more prepared and have more confidence to impress a future employer,” Ricketts said.
“I also know how to eat soup, now,” Ricketts added, laughing.
The Office of Career Services was in charge of the dining etiquette program.