Frequently Asked Questions

You are invited to a reception and invitation states "6:00 to 8:00 pm." When should you arrive?
You may arrive exactly at 6:00, after 6:00, but not before. It is terribly impolite to arrive early.

You are the host of a dinner party at a restaurant. Included are two other couples and your most valuable client and his wife. You instruct the waiter to: 
To serve your client's spouse first, and you and your spouse last.

When is it proper to remove your napkin from the table, and what do you do with it when you are finished? 
Place your napkin on your lap after everyone at your table has been seated. When you are finished, place the napkin on the right side of your plate.

When is it proper to begin eating?
Begin eating after everyone at your table has been served.

How should you hold your utensils? 
There are two acceptable ways to hold the knife and fork. The first way is continental style. The diner cuts the food usually one bite at a time and uses the fork in the left hand, tines pointing down to spear the food and bring it to the mouth. The second style is called American. Usually a few bites are cut, the knife is laid across the top of the plate, sharp edge toward you, and the fork is switched to the right hand, if right-handed, tines up to bring the food to the mouth.

When you are dining out, if you have multiple utensils, how do you know what to choose? 
Start on the outside and work your way in.

What do you do if you drop a piece of silverware? 
Pick it up if you can reach it and ask the server for a clean one. If you cannot reach it, tell the server you dropped a piece of your silverware and ask for a clean one.

Should the salt and pepper be passed if only one was requested? 
Always pass the salt and pepper together.

What is the correct way to eat soup? 
Always spoon the soup away from you then bring around to your mouth and back to the bowl. Think of making a circle.

What is the correct way to eat rolls or bread? 
Eat rolls or bread by tearing off small bite size pieces and buttering only the piece you are preparing to eat. When you are ready for another piece, repeat the same process.

The waiter is coming in your direction to serve wine. You do not want any. Your turn your glass upside down. Are you correct?
No. Do not call attention to your dislike of your host's choice of beverage.

Someone has proposed a toast in your honor. You say "thank you" and take a sip of your drink. Are you correct? 
No. If you do, then you are toasting yourself.

When is it acceptable to place your elbows on the table? 
Only between courses, not while you are eating.

If you need to leave the table during a meal, where do you place your napkin? 
Place your napkin on your chair as a signal to your server that you will be returning. 

Place Setting Tips

There are many things to remember when dining. If you are with a perspective employer, remember it may look like lunch or dinner, but it is still business. The way you conduct yourself during a meal will have impact on an interviewer's hiring decision and on your future.

  • Rules of introduction:
      Stand up
      Always shake hands, firmly
      Make eye contact
      Repeat the other person's name
  • The meal begins when your host unfolds his or her napkin. This will be your signal to do the same. Do not open your napkin in mid-air. Open your napkin below the table level and place on your lap. Your host will signal the end of the meal by placing his or her napkin on the table. You should also place your napkin on the table to the right of your plate. (Do not refold your napkin)
  • Choosing the correct silverware is not as difficult as it first seems. Start with the knife, fork, or spoon that is farthest from your plate and work your way in. Use one utensil for each course of the meal. The salad fork is on your outermost left, followed by your dinner fork. Your soup spoon is on your outermost right followed by your beverage spoon, salad knife, and dinner knife. Your dessert spoon or fork is usually placed above your plate or brought out with dessert. Remember the rule to work from the outside in and you will be fine.
  • If an individual at your table who has not been served encourages you to begin eating, you may do so. However, eat slowly while waiting for their food to be served.
  • Always taste of your food before using any seasonings.
  • Food such as the breadbasket, salt and pepper, and salad dressing are always passed to the right. When passing items such as creamer, syrup, or a gravy boat, pass it with the handle pointing toward the recipient.
  • Soup is taken from the side of the soup spoon. It is not inserted into your mouth. If your soup is too hot to eat, let it sit until it has cooled. Do not blow on it.
  • Engage in table conversation that is pleasant. Avoid controversial subjects.
  • When you are not eating, you should keep your hands on your lap or resting on the table (with wrists on the edge of the table).
  • Only in case of an emergency should you leave the table during the meal. If you must leave, simply excuse yourself. Later apologize to the host by saying you did not feel well.