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Etiquette, interviewing skills featured for students

By Sookhan Ho

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 15 - December 11, 1997

Katie Geib, a junior in marketing management, may look a little bewildered by the complex place setting, but really, she's only kidding. After attending a classroom lecture on proper dining etiquette and successful interviewing skills in Don Rieley's class, Geib was ready to tackle the formal four-course dinner hosted by 18 corporate representatives at Owens Banquet Hall. She and her classmates were there to practice what they had learned.
Student job-seekers often need to dine with recruiters and other company officials during the interviewing process, said Rieley, a marketing instructor in the Pamplin College of Business. "This is a very stressful situation for most students."
The "fine-dining program," which is part of his Marketing Skills 3154 course, is aimed at giving students the necessary knowledge and skills to interact confidently and professionally with recruiters and other company officials at lunch or dinner interviews, Rieley said.
Rieley organized the program with the assistance of Laura Worley and Kristi Fairbanks, staff members of the university's Residential and Dining Programs, and with financial support from Aerotek of Baltimore, Enterprise Rent-A-Car of McLean, and Litton Polyscientific of Blacksburg. Representatives from these and other companies served as hosts at the tables.
Students learned not just which fork to use, but where they should leave the knife after using it in the salad (on the bread plate, to prevent the knife from being removed along with the salad plate) and how to eat gracefully such foods as soup with julienned vegetables (leave the challenging veggies behind) or cherry tomatoes in salad (pierce with a fork, then slice in half with a knife).
Learning and practicing such social skills as good table manners, Rieley said, is part of a well-rounded education. His course also seeks to help students acquire skills in decision making, computer analysis, and written and oral communication.