Where are your table manners: Tips for a successful interview

Thandie Brown

South Bureau Chief


The beginning of September housed a Practice Makes Perfect workshop where students around campus and from the Social and Behavioral Sciences and Human Services (SBSHS) Pathway were able to experience notary tips for the workforce. Sponsored by Dr. Robert Morris, a History professor of the SBSHS, and Tiffany Erving, Student Life Coordinator, the two-hour workshop detailed many of the unspoken steps involved in an interview.

Morris and Erving discussed over the summer how to prepare students for what happens beyond Broward College. Erving says, “whether it affects students at a four-year institution or within the workforce,” they wanted students to be ready for what comes next.

Accounting the little details like the tailoring of suit jackets to the big details such as how early an interviewee arrives for an interview were some of the topics that Gina Lawson from Men’s Warehouse put into perspective during her session.

Lawson locked in the students’ attention while mapping just how complex the hiring industry is. Professional etiquette includes the posture and seating involved in waiting during your interview. She gave tips catered toward multi-step interviews such as knowing how to build up an outfit depending on the stage which surprisingly enough, also determines the formality. To demonstrate, professors from the SBSHS – Morris, Professor Cornelius Brownlee, Professor Stephen Muniz and Dr. Ed Cornejo – wore suits that varied depending on color, occasion and step of the interviewing process.

Lawson, a Field Operations Manager for Men’s Wearhouse, held the workshop to explain to students who attended behavioral tips that in her many years of working have guaranteed jobs to people of all backgrounds.

Students practice their food etiquette while Lawson (standing) gives interview tips. Ray Alce/The Observer

She emphasized that the interview starts long before a person-for-hire ever steps into the building. From researching your interviewer’s company to doing a phoned-in follow-up if the application was submitted online, she cautions social media use and what is tied to a potential employee’s name.

Lawson says, “dress like the amount of money you want to make.”

She pointed out subtle nuances of attire: coordinating accessories, the build from solid colors to more accented colors depending on the stage of the interviewing process and the complement of natural makeup in a professional setting for the ladies. She also explained that a skirt down to the knee, for the ladies, is standard work attire. Using Erving as a model example, details like the need for pantyhose and what kind of shoes to wear, for both genders, were called to attention as well.

Erving says, “it is all about career skills,” and that, “the interview sometimes starts the minute you step on the pavement.”

Erving furthermore collaborated with Samuel Randle of Randle Coordinating to have a formal dining scenario set-up for students. Student Life then provided a meal that practiced the hands-on engagement of eating in a formal setting.

Taking the scene of the interview out of the office and into an eating event, Erving shared the importance of knowing what silverware to use for what dish and the etiquette of simple meals and dining. Knowing how to cut the food that’s being eaten and the manner of which an interviewee is chewing are important details to keep in mind.

Now, both presenters also stressed the importance of the interviewee asking questions of the interviewer. Topics like what kind of stock options and benefits are available to employees and the opportunities within the company to work up the ladder of seniority are subjects that they prioritized as important.

Morris says, “this was an opportunity for students to see it, partake in it, and also now apply it to what they know.”

He says students want to see more and that a follow-up workshop about dressing for South Florida is to be looked for in the Spring – Practice Makes Perfect 2.

The many forms of elegant dinnerware settings, more tips to succeed within the workforce and dressing suggestions are but an effort of contact away.

Photos of the event can be found @BCSouthSL on Facebook and for more information about dress attire, email Gina Lawson at gina.lawson@menswearhouse.com. Follow up with Tiffany Erving about food etiquette at terving@broward.edu and email Dr. Morris for any questions about other resources at rmorris1@broward.edu.


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