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Etiquette Tip of the Week: Interview meal quick hits

Some people think, “I’ll never have an interview meal. Interview meals are for finance or accounting majors and law students.”

No matter what business you are in, you are always eating with others.  There are meetings that run long, where sandwiches are ordered in; dining with clients or vendors; lunches and dinners with trade groups or at conventions; charitable fundraisers; company events with food; and if you have a cafeteria on site, you might lunch with many different people.

So what are some of the Interview Meal Quick Hits that apply to other business dining situations, too?

Culture and Manners Institute

Etiquette Tip of the Week: Don’t fuss with the lettuce…

When I give a dining tutorial, a frequent question is, “What if something falls off my plate?” This is usually asked during a salad course.  Because salads are tricky.  They are made up of items of wacky shapes and textures that don’t fit together like Legos.  Cherry tomatoes roll.  Croutons bounce.  Leaf lettuce flaps this way and that. Dressing just greases the skids. Of course, it’s piled high onto a tiny plate.

If a piece of lettuce lands on the table, leave it (no pun intended.)  When you are finished with your salad, put the leaf back on the plate before the plate is removed.

Do you ever feel self-conscious about bread crumbs left behind?  It’s probably because you are imagining everyone else at the table looking at your crumbs on the dark table cloth and thinking, “Did any of the bread make it into his/her mouth?”  Don’t sweat the bread crumbs. Into all our lives a few crumbs must fall.  In some fine dining venues, a wait person will come to your rescue by scooping up the crumbs with a magic wand called a crumber.

Culture and Manners Institute

Etiquette Tip of the Week: The music next door…

When I worked for Amana Appliances corporate headquarters, I remember being put on hold during my call to another department.  The on-hold music was an elevator music version of “Light My Fire” by The Doors.  I couldn’t help picturing a lonely musician in a studio somewhere, whose dreams of being a famous musician had long since been crushed, sitting in front of a keyboard tapping out this Easy Listening, elevator music version of Light My Fire.

We’re surrounded by music — and that’s a beautiful thing.  Unless, it is the unwanted buzz of some kind of techno-pop racket escaping the “noise cancelling” headphones of the guy in the next cubicle or the teenager in the airplane seat next to you.  What do you do?

First, lay the groundwork for a good relationship before there is a problem.  If you work next to someone, greet that person each day and be friendly.  Be a good cubicle or open office table neighbor, who doesn’t have smelly food like microwave popcorn.  It’s much easier to take, “I hate to bother you, but could you please turn down your music?” from a person who is kind to you than from a cold fish who ignores you every day.

Same thing with the airline seat mates — greet the people sitting next to you when you sit down, so you start out in a positive light.  Then your requests after that have more chance for success.


Culture and Manners Institute

Check out our video about the 2014 Career Fair!

Thanks to all the great UMaine students
who shared their tips on how to best prepare for the fair.

Image Description: cf14video

Etiquette Tip of the Week: Jacket on, jacket off…


“Can I take my suit jacket (or blazer) off for a business meal?”

Here are some of the rules for keeping your jacket on or taking your jacket off:
In a formal dinner: jacket on.
In an interview or interview meal: jacket on.
In a meeting, jacket on.  Jacket off, only if your host or the most senior person removes his/her jacket first.
Greeting people as they enter the meeting: jacket on.
Sitting alone in your office or cubicle: jacket off… unless you are chilly.

When seated, unbutton your jacket.
When standing, always leave the bottom button of your jacket unbuttoned for ease of movement.  Unless you are wearing a double breasted jacket, which according to the late Leticia Baldrige “looks awkward hanging open, like a gate that needs closing.”

These rules apply to women’s jackets (blazers) as well as men’s.

Culture and Manners Institute


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the Career Center
5748 Memorial Union, Room 300
Orono, Maine 04469-5748
Phone: 207.581.1359 | Fax: 207.581.3003E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469