Do you know which water glass is yours? Which roll belongs to you? These are concerns that can make you feel flustered during a meal. Interviews are tough enough without worrying about your table manners. However, your table manners will leave a positive or negative impression. Test your knowledge and follow the 10 dining etiquette tips below to feel more comfortable and confident.
1. What do I do when the silverware at the restaurant is wrapped in the napkin?
Carefully unwrap the napkin so you don’t drop the silverware on the floor. Place the silverware where it belongs in the place setting. Forks go to the left of the plate. Knives and spoons go to the right. Put the napkin on your lap.
2. Which water glass is yours?
An easy way to remember which water glass and bread roll are yours is to think of the BMW automobile. Think of BMW as Bread, Meal, and Water. Your bread or dinner roll is to the left of the entrée plate, your meal is in the center, and your water glass is to the right of the plate.
3. Which fork should I use first?
When it comes to dining utensils, a good rule of thumb is to work from the outside to inside. The salad fork will be the smaller on the outside, and the larger fork will be on the inside.
4. Where do I put my fork after I use it?
Used utensils do not go back on the tablecloth. Put them on the salad or entrée plate.
5. Who should pass the bread around?
If the bread is in a basket in front of you, pick it up and offer it to the person on your left. Then, take a piece yourself and pass it to your right. Or, just pick up the basket and pass it to your right without serving yourself first.
6. If I need to excuse myself to use the restroom during the meal, where should I put my table napkin?
Place your napkin on your chair so others do not see your soiled napkin.
7. How should I handle messy foods like BBQ ribs?
The best advice I can give is not to order anything messy. Save them for eating at home or with friends in an informal setting. Remember, this is not your “Last Supper.”
8. If I am passing the salt to someone across the table, is it OK to salt my food?
No. Pass the salt and pepper as a pair to the requester. Then politely ask to have the salt passed to you. Both the salt and pepper should be passed together to you.
9. Is it polite to offer to pay the tip?
No, because you would need to know the cost of the meal to calculate the tip.
10. If the person interviewing me has poppy seeds in his or her teeth, should I tell him or her?
Yes. This is the polite thing to do. People want to know this, and you would also.
Use these tips to avoid worrying about etiquette blunders. If you are more comfortable and confident, you will have a better chance of making a good impression and getting the job.
Kathleen D. Pagana, PhD, is the author of The Nurse’s Etiquette Advantage: How Professional Etiquette Can Advance Your Nursing Career. She is a best-selling author of almost 2 million books with translations in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Polish. She is also a keynote speaker who motivates professionals to reach their goals through leadership, business etiquette, and life balance.