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Personal & professional development

The Importance of Social and Dining Etiquette

Social and dining etiquette plays a key role in today’s business world. You will use these skills in everything from interviews and business meetings, to networking events and office parties. A little confidence can go a long way and proper etiquette will set you apart from the competition. These skills are crucial to securing a job and advancing in your career.

Many organizations, large and small, conduct final round interviews in a professional dining setting. And the way you present yourself can make or break the deal. Even if you have an outstanding resume and excel in interviews, your lack of knowledge of social etiquette can prevent you from receiving an offer.

Social and Dining Etiquette Training

Each fall and spring semester, the Sam M. Walton College of Business Career Development Center and the Center for Retailing Excellence host a professional development training event focused on social and dining etiquette. The event consists of professional image consultant conducting an hour training session on social etiquette in a networking setting and American dining style within a formal setting. After training, students enjoy a three course dinner and the company of local employers and fellow students. This event is held at the Janelle Y. Hembree Alumni House on the University of Arkansas campus. This event is free to students, but seating is limited. To be considered for this event, students must fill out an application, available in the Walton College Career Center, and submit a letter of recommendation from a professor or instructor. Recommendation letters can be emailed directly to Renee Clay at

Upcoming Training Events:

The fall 2014 Social and Dining Etiquette will be held in October. In addition to the formal training, the Walton College Career Center will host an alternate lecture-style session later in the fall semester. Additional details will be posted early in the fall semester.

For more information regarding this event, please contact Renee Clay at 479.575.3925 or

The Formal Place Setting

The diagram below represents a standard place setting. The place setting will vary depending on the type of food being served. For example, if seafood is being served there will be an additional fork and knife. Also, the dessert fork may be placed above the dinner plate along with a dessert spoon.

Tips to Remember:

  • If you aren't sure which utensil to begin with, work your way from the outside in (farthest from the dinner plate to closest)
  • Your drinks/glasses are on the right
  • Your bread plate and napkin are on the left

Social & Dining Etiquette Presentation:

Social & Dining Etiquette Video Tutorials:

Dining Do's and Don'ts

  • Do introduce yourself to each new person at the table and greet those you have already met before everyone is seated. Remember to use a firm handshake!
  • Don't talk with food in your mouth.
  • Do sit up straight and keep your arms and elbows off the table.
  • Don’t blow on food that is hot.
  • Do carry food to your mouth with an inward, not an outward, curve of the fork or spoon.
  • Don’t gesture with silverware in your hand.
  • Do look into, not over, your cup or glass when drinking.
  • Don't overload your plate.
  • Do try a little of everything served to you unless you are allergic.
  • Don't saw back and forth with your knife; stroke the knife toward you instead.
  • Don't let your silverware touch the table after you have picked it up. If you are not finished eating, place the fork and knife on your plate in an upside down V.
  • Don’t push your plate away from you when you are finished; instead place your fork and knife side by side on your plate at an angle.
Career Center
Walker Hall 226
Fayetteville, AR 72701
PH: (479) 575-6100
FX: (479) 575-4025

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