WILKES-BARRE — About 75 Wilkes University students learned Tuesday that it's OK to cut your cucumbers and stab your cherry tomatoes as long as your bread is on the left and drinks are on the right.
And never risk eating cooked spinach because nothing could do more harm to a good job interview than green spinach stuck in your otherwise glistening smile. And never slurp.
The students — mostly seniors and some juniors — gathered for a learning luncheon at the Marts Center on campus. Janine Becker, executive director of student services, gave a presentation on how to prepare and act at a job interview over lunch or dinner.
The students learned how to behave, how to dress, how to converse and how to pass the salad dressing — always to your right and never help yourself first.
“I'll still be nervous when I go to an interview,” Jasmine Edwards, 24, a senior business administration major from Philadelphia, said. “But I will be much more confident. I learned how to eat correctly and it's always good to know proper etiquette.”
Becker told the students that it's “never too early” to learn good etiquette. “The things your mom told you growing up, well, she was right,” Becker said.
Students were told to introduce themselves when arriving at the table for lunch or dinner and use a firm handshake.
“No wimpy handshakes,” she said. “No dead fish.”
And use good eye contact, stand when a woman approaches the table and use real words, no slang.
“Yo is not a real word unless you're a pirate,” Becker said.
Silence and conceal cellphones, place your napkin on your lap and avoid topics such as politics, religion and family drama, she said.
Becker said don't be the first to ask about salary, days off or vacations — that information will come later. Interviewers want to know about the interviewees.
“You're always being interviewed,” Becker said. “Don't shove food in your mouth.”
There are often several “more than qualified” applicants for a job, she said. “How do we decide who to hire?” she asked. “It often comes down to subjective things.”
The dress code is always business professional and, Becker said, some personal things may not play well with the interviewer. “Let's just say extensive piercings aren't your friends when looking for a job,” she said.
Michael Tedeschi, 21, a senior computer information systems major from Long Island, N.Y., said he wasn't familiar with many of the table procedures he learned today.
“I always thought you passed everything to the left,” he said. “I'm prepared now, as long as I remember all this stuff.”
Dominic Manzione, 21, a junior entrepreneurship major from Honesdale, said he wants to open his own environmental business. He's not sure if he will ever have to utilize the etiquette he learned Tuesday.
“But the plan is to cut my hair before I graduate,” he said. “I'll donate it to charity. If I ever interview in the corporate world, this information will help.”
Kaitlyn Bevans, 22, a senior from Hazleton, wants to be a math teacher. She said she learned the proper way to carry herself at an interview.
“I now know what to do and what not to do,” she said.
And keep those elbows off the table.