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Gators Learn to Mind Their P’s and Q’s at MDCOB Etiquette Dinner


By Laura Wagner

Scenario: A potential employer invites you to an interview over dinner. Are you prepared? 

If you attended the Marilyn Davies College of Business (MDCOB) Etiquette Dinner on Nov. 2, the answer is yes

Nearly 40 Business majors joined Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Texas, for a three-course meal at Hotel Icon last Thursday and an evening of business etiquette. Topics ranged from preparing for the meal, identifying the best (and best to avoid) ordering options, napkin knowledge, place settings, paying the bill, and of course, that burning question: Should I order alcohol? 

Diane Gottsman

Gottsman, a well-known social media and television personality, covered these and more etiquette essentials plus student questions. Some pro tips:

  • Cell phones: Turn your phone on airplane mode and put it in your purse or jacket pocket. If you must check texts for any reason, excuse yourself from the the table and check it in the restroom. Never take a call at the table!
  • Purse placement: Leave the YSL Quilted Icare Shopper Bag at home and take the smallest purse possible. Place it on your lap underneath your napkin. If you must take a handbag, look for a hook mounted under the table or ask the waiter for a purse hook. Some restaurants place a small table specifically for purses next to the dining table. You can also purchase a purse hook and carry it with you. Never place your purse on the table or floor.
  • Paying / tipping: Whoever issued the invitation not only pays for the meal, but also the tip. For students who are already working with clients, note that if you issue an invitation to meet a client over a meal, you (or your company) are expected to cover the cost. 

And the answer to that burning question? Generally speaking, it’s best not to drink when at an interview. That way, you can stay sharp and put your best self forward. If you're already employed and at a meal with a client, ordering one cocktail or glass of wine is acceptable. 

MBA student Brenda Flores found the event enlightening. “There was so much good information—for one thing, posture matters!" Flores said. “And I was surprised to learn that salad is not a good ordering option—that would have been my go-to, but Ms. Gottsman pointed out salad can leave bits of lettuce in your teeth.” Flores also appreciated tips on how to excuse oneself from the table and which utensils to use when. “I encourage all Business Gators to participate in the Etiquette Dinner because the information is for more than just job interviews—lunches and dinners are frequent in corporate America. You don't want to come off as unpolished or rude even after you get the job.” 

“The goal of the event is to help our students become comfortable interviewing over a meal so they can focus on the interview instead of worrying about the dos and don’ts of dining etiquette,” explained Brett Hobby, Director, MDCOB Career Center. “Most of our students don’t come from homes where formal dining was the routine, so this event is the time and place to make mistakes, ask questions, and get comfortable in the environment—while wearing professional attire!”

Offered every spring and fall, the ticketed event is a partnership between the MDCOB Career Center and the UHD Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Mark your calendar today: The next Etiquette Dinner will be held sometime in April 2024. For more information, contact the MDCOB Career Center.