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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2014 / 10 

Career Services’ etiquette dinner prepares students for job interviews

October 8, 2014

A formal dinner setting on a red tablecloth
Formal dining during a job interview may be intimidating, as employers scrutinize a candidate’s conduct during meals and in social situations.

In today's highly competitive job market, students are learning that to land that first professional job, it will take more than a well-crafted resume and strong interview skills. It also requires impeccable table manners.

Toward that end, Virginia Tech's Career Services will host Fine Dining 101--the annual etiquette dinner to be held on Wednesday, Oct. 22 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in Owens Banquet Hall.

“In today's job market, when people are interviewing, a meal is generally included,” said career advisor Katie Steuer. “Those interviewing may have to eat with their prospective bosses or coworkers, so this program is a great way to learn about business etiquette in a non-threatening situation.”

Fine Dining 101 begins with a networking reception, followed by a 30-minute presentation on dining etiquette. Students, attending sponsors, and others from Virginia Tech will begin the meal, which simulates a meal between an employer and a prospective hire.

“The opening reception gives students an opportunity to talk with the different employers and to practice their elevator pitches and handshakes,” Steuer said. “For the meal, we have assigned seating because we want students to sit with people they’re not familiar with.”

“Many people would be tempted to consider the meal as a time that they can relax and let their guard down,” said Donna Ratcliffe, director of career services. “But it really is another way for employers to assess their social skills.”

Virginia Tech's Personal Touch Catering will prepare the four-course meal, which will include soup, salad, entree, and dessert.

“And yes, we will ask chef to prepare items that may be difficult to eat,” Ratcliffe said. “That might be, for example, a cherry tomato which is hard to pick up with a fork, or soup with vegetables that might fall off the spoon.”

Last year, 192 students attended the etiquette event. The event is open to currently enrolled students of all majors and grade levels. Business attire is required and there is an $11 cost to attend. Registration closes Friday, Oct. 10.

Career Services has hosted Fine Dining 101 for 15 years. Attendance is usually split evenly between men and women and all majors are represented. About two-thirds of participants are seniors and one-third are juniors. 

“Coming as a freshman and learning etiquette skills could be even more beneficial than attending your senior year,” Steuer said.

Virginia Tech Alumni Association, Kohl’s, and FedBid have provided support for this event.

More information on dining etiquette, including common questions and answers on the topic, can be found online. The Smith Career Center is located at 870 Washington St. SW, at the corner of Washington St. and West Campus Dr.

Written by Emily Hughes of Ashburn, Virginia, a sophomore majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

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