When meeting with a potential employer, your resume is not the only thing that will be perused. According to etiquette instructor Tia Young, everything from the first handshake to how you dress to your posture and eye contact can become a deciding factor when being interviewed for a job.
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” she said.
Students learned how to make their best first impression during the National Association of Black Accountants and the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting’s etiquette dinner. The dinner, which was held on Nov. 18 in the Marshall Student Center, was sponsored by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and provided students with tips ranging from proper ways to eat to proper ways to approach future clients or employers.
Young first explained how to properly shake someone’s hand, remember people’s names and use proper conversational skills. Attendees practiced their listening skills by introducing themselves to fellow guests and learning about their backgrounds. To remember the names of the people they talked to, Young said they should associate the name with something, repeat the name back and simply ask for a business card.
Attire also plays an important role in making a good first impression. When meeting a future client or employee, Young said you should never wear jeans, tight clothing or shirts featuring big pictures or print.
Even the colors you wear can reflect personality, she said. For example, gray and black signal that you are proficient, whereas pastel colors indicate that you are a happy person.
While eating in a professional setting, Young said you should rip off small pieces of bread and butter them one at a time instead of buttering an entire roll at once. Likewise, meats like chicken should be cut and eaten piece by piece.
During any meal, a napkin should be folded in half and placed in your lap and you should sit a hand-length away from the table, she said.
“We believe dining and business etiquette are very important,” said Alicia Cabrera, an associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “Wherever you go, people are always watching you, so it’s always good to have your best foot forward. After all, someone makes eleven thoughts about you in the first seven seconds (that you meet).”