Kate Hollimon, University of West Florida
In February, the University of West Florida hosted their second annual Etiquette Dinner – Interview Edition. This event distinguishes itself from a typical Etiquette Dinner as it is the next step beyond learning basic etiquette to application with an employer. The UWF Career Services offices hosted the Etiquette Dinner – Interview Edition off campus at a local popular restaurant, McGuire’s Irish Pub, to give students a more authentic experience of interviewing over a meal. Sixteen employers were invited to dine with students and ask them basic interview questions while also providing the students feedback on their interviewing skills.
For students who attended the fall Etiquette Dinner, they were able to put into practice all they had learned regarding interviewing techniques over a meal; however, students shared that they still learned even more from the Interview Edition of the Etiquette Dinner, “[the event] had great tips for what to do to prepare for an interview and what to ask the interviewer.” Employers responded that they felt similarly regarding the additional training that students received at the dinner, “Thank you so much for allowing me to participate in the UWF interview etiquette dinner this year. This was an excellent event! Participants were provided with invaluable information and practice to ensure success in their future interviews.”
The evening began with a salad course and allowed employers and students to complete introductions. The main course was served buffet style which was selected intentionally so as to expose students to how to navigate etiquette when going through a buffet line. After final educational instructions were given regarding further interviewing techniques and etiquette, the dessert course was served. Over 50 students engaged in the meal saying that they felt they learned valuable information, “I learned a lot and feel as though it will help me in the real world.”
Of all the employers who responded to a survey following the event, they all said they would be very likely or extremely likely to return next year as a host for the Etiquette Dinner – Interview Edition. Employers expressed their positive feedback regarding the purpose of the event, “ [we are ] pleased to partner with UWF in preparing students …for success in their employment and business endeavors.”
Because of the positive feedback from both students and employers, it’s a clear demonstration of the need for this type of application event. UWF Career Services intends to host the event next year with continued plans to host the event off campus at a local community restaurant.