Montana Tech Career Fair


etiquette for college students

The dictionary definition of “etiquette” is “the form or code of behavior prescribed by custom or authority that delineates expectations for social, official or professional life according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class or group.”

It is important to remember, the purpose of etiquette is to be attentive to the people around us.

Today, business is often done over a meal. Employers carefully watch what you do so it is essential to understand how to conduct yourself in a professional manner in these situations.

Tips and Guidelines

Below are some tips and guidelines for proper etiquette during a business dinner.

Eating Styles

There are two acceptable ways to use a fork and knife: the American and Continental (European) styles.

  • American Style: Cut a few bites (no more than two or three) and lay the knife across the plate with the sharp edge towards you. Switch your fork to your right hand (if right-handed; left hand if left-handed), and keep the fork’s tines up when bringing food to your mouth.
  • Continental (European) Style: Cut one bite at a time and keep your fork in the same hand. Keep the tines of the fork down when spearing food and bringing it to your mouth.

Cultural Guidelines

Travel is an important part of modern jobs, and eating in new countries is an important part of travel. It is crucial for you to know the dining etiquette guidelines of the country you are visiting.

Take some time to review eating customs for the country you are visiting so you don’t offend your hosts or embarrass yourself. Consult your local embassy for more information on the country you will visit next.

Dos and Don’ts

  • RSVP for the meal if “RSVP” is on the invitation. This means you need to reply to the invitation to let your host know you will be there. It is rude to not respond.
  • Sit down from the left side of the chair and exit from the right.
  • Pass the salt and pepper together, even if only one is requested.
  • Pass food from left to right.
  • Consider the meal as part of the interview process.
  • Try to find common, non-controversial interests for conversation, i.e. hobbies, sports, etc.
  • Order mid-priced dishes if interviewing since the employer will be paying.
  • Thank your host for the wonderful hospitality and send a thank-you note the next day.
  • Ignore anyone sitting near you.
  • Talk with your mouth full.
  • Pick up the check, no matter how long it sits by your plate. Your host will pick it up when ready.
  • Offer to share the payment or leave a tip.
Formal Place Settings

Check out this map of a formal place settings and tips for using glasses, plates, bowls, and utensils in a formal dining setting.