JACKSON, Tenn. – April 2, 2004 – Union University’s career services hosted its annual business etiquette luncheon Thursday, March 25.
Students gathered in the president’s dining room for a formal meal and received instruction on proper lunch interview behavior. This year’s luncheon was a little different from prior events, said Reneé Jones, assistant director of career services.
Jones said the format for the luncheon was unique for several reasons, including the change in the feel of the event. Instead of having a straight lecture, she incorporated a question-and-answer session. Jones said the students were able to learn more due to the relaxed atmosphere.
“I let the students do most of the talking,” Jones said. “Some questions were thought-provoking and others were common questions that everyone wants to ask but is afraid to.” For example, she said, one student asked which utensil to start with at a formal place setting.
“The rule is to go from the outside in,” Jones said. “Begin with the salad fork and then use your bigger fork for the main course.”
Jones presented role-playing scenarios to the group and students collaborated to reach the solution. One problem was how to signal when one is finished eating. Jones said placing a dirty napkin on a clean table indicates that one is finished.
At the luncheon, students learn the basics of dinner etiquette, such as how to enter a room, sit down and even where to place jackets and purses. Although the format was different, Jones said the goal is always the same.
“The purpose is to equip individuals to be social experts,” she said. “Social skills are what interviewers are looking for. They take potential employees out to lunch in order to test them, not to treat them.”
Jones underlined the importance of knowing proper etiquette and said having good social skills must be “up to par with that great resume and reference list.”
For the students who participated in the luncheon, it was a valuable lesson. “It was very useful for me,” said Ray Jones, a freshman special education major from Birmingham, Ala. “I was speaking with some important people soon after the luncheon and was able to use what I had learned in this meeting.”
The luncheon proved to be a preventative measure for him as well. “I’m glad I went to the luncheon,” he said. “I learned about some eating habits I should avoid when I am at a formal meal. I was able to avoid those at that meeting.”
Being able to shine and avoid some of the common mistakes other interviewees make at these meetings is one of the key goals of this luncheon, Reneé Jones said.
Paul Travis, a junior psychology major from Memphis, Tenn., not only attended the luncheon, but Jones appointed him as a student host for the next luncheon. Jones uses student hosts to sit at the heads of each table and to assist other students.
For more information about Union’s career services, call (731) 668-1818 or visit www.uu.edu/studentservices/careerservices/.
by Tracie Holden ('04)