Before you ever show up for a job interview, you’ll want to learn everything you can about the professional culture of the work environment. Will you be expected to dress in formal work attire every day, or are blue jeans considered an acceptable (and preferred) part of the dress code?

The important thing to keep in mind is that you’ve got only one chance to make a good first impression, so understanding the professional expectations of your potential work environment is one of the most critical steps you’ll ever make when it comes to winning a job offer.

Attire

If you’re applying for a job that requires professional/business attire, then you can follow some basic guidelines to ensure that you’ll be dressed for success.

For a quick reference on proper attire in most professional settings, download our guides for men and women.

Table Manners

Often, job interviews will include at least one meal. You may be too nervous to actually eat anything, so while you won’t impress them with your hearty appetite, you can make a statement with your table manners.

When the host unfolds his or her napkin, place your napkin on your lap. If you need to leave the table during the meal, place your napkin on your chair. Once the meal is over, place your napkin neatly on the table to the right of your dinner plate.

An employer will generally suggest that your order be taken first. You should not order one of the most expensive items on the menu or more than two courses unless your host indicates that it is all right.

Understanding some of the basic rules of a table setting can help eliminate some of the anxiety that comes from a formal dining experience. For example, remembering the rule of "liquids on your right" and "solids on your left" will help in allowing you to quickly become familiar with which drink and bread plate are yours. Also, your forks will always be placed on the left of the setting and your spoons and knives will always be placed on the right.

Additionally, if there is silverware placed horizontally above your plate, these are your dessert utensils and you know that dessert will be served as well. These simple rules of the table setting make the dining experience less intimidating.

Starting with the knife, fork, or spoon that is farthest from your plate, work your way in, using one utensil for each course. Your dessert spoon and fork are above your plate or brought out with dessert.

The common way to show that you have finished your meal is to lay your fork and knife diagonally across your plate. Place your knife and fork side by side, with the sharp side of the knife blade facing inward and the fork, tines down, to the left of the knife. The knife and fork should be placed as if they are pointing to the numbers 10 and 4 on a clock face.


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