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Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette

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Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 02 Feb 2008, 23:44
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So, as I see it, this is probably the most important aspect to successful recruiting. Etiquette includes not just manners when you sit down at dinner, but also how you act at company presentations, how you behave at events, and perhaps most importantly how you interact with fellow students. So, let's try to look at each step of the recruiting process.

Your first encounter with firms that recruit on campus will probably be at a company briefing or presentation. (note: I met some students from Fuqua and they had their Week on Wall Street at the start of recruiting season before any briefings, while we had our Week on Wall Street as the last event of recruiting season). Early on in the recruiting season, many events will be overflowing with students. The first recruiter on campus this last fall was Lehman Brothers, and I'd say about 150 people (about 1/2 our class) attended; later in the fall, there were 50-70 people that were really interested in banking. Someone from Wharton told me they had 4-500 people at some IB briefings.

The key thing to remember at this early stage is to not do anything that gets you thrown off the list. Firms usually brought lots of people for networking after the general presentation, and a lot of students felt the inclination to charge up after the presentation and pepper the representatives with questions. I'll just say that I don't think there is anything that you can possibly do at this stage to help you. Students that were really aggressive only succeeded in hurting themselves. My strategy was generally to hang back, have a drink or something to eat while people rushed up and surrounded the firm representatives, and then after the crowd started to thin I approached 1 or 2 people I thought I could connect with and tried to have a few words with them. Trying to talk to every single firm representative probably isn't a good strategy.

I'd always try to follow up with a thank you email that would help them remember me. This is a two step process. First, you need to say something during the original conversation that they might remember. Second, you need to reference that in your email. But you need to do it all without coming across as being too pushy or aggressive. So, try to find some things in your background that are hooks that will help people remember you. So for me, I was a lawyer working in real estate and CMBS, I was an entrepreneur working with factories in China and I collect wine. I tried to speak with representatives that had similar backgrounds, and most of all I didn't offer up any information until prompted. Again, don't be pushy. After the event, send an email thanking the people that you spoke with. Many times firms will provide a list of people attending an event; otherwise try to get a business card from the people that you spoke with. Don't rush back to your computer/blackberry and shoot of emails. I actually had a chuckle with a banker who was laughing about a thank you email that hit his blackberry 30 minutes after a conversation. Wait until the next day, after they have had a chance to get back to their offices.

Now might be a good time to talk about interacting with fellow students. Nobody likes pushy classmates at recruiting events. People with sharp elbows definitely didn't do well during recruiting. People that shoved their way into groups and tried to take over conversations were not invited to subsequent events. Firms absolutely definitely notice when people are too pushy, and they don't like it. I have many many examples of people who are plenty smart but just didn't have any self-awareness and ended up making no closed lists. I suggest supporting your fellow classmates, introducing them recruiters if you are able, and complimenting them if you are able. The dynamic will vary at each school, so you'll each have to judge for yourselves. Darden tends to be very collaborative, and those students that displayed teamwork during recruiting did the best; and those students that were most selfish did the worst. I found that recruiters really responded positively when I told them I had a great learning team and that I really gained a lot from working with them; and they were visibly turned off by people who were know-it-alls and discounted their classmates.

Also keep in mind that firms are always watching. When you are moving between groups or just taking a break at an event, don't stand off in the corner by yourself. Even if they don't note this overtly, they will start to notice as they get to know you. Try to engage other students while you grab a drink or some food. Firms will also notice is your fellow students drop their heads in annoyance as you approach - yet another reason to make nice with your fellow classmates.

After the initial presentation, many firms will host some open invite events for all students - usually for cocktails or something like that. There are some basic suggestions for these types of events. Hold your drink in your left hand; that way your right hand won't be wet and icy cold when you need to shake hands. Dress appropriately for each event. Refer back to part 2 for details, but the basic thing to remember is that you should never be remembered for what you wore. So, don't be the only one in jeans, but also don't be the only one in a suit, and definitely don't be flashy. Watch your breath - it's pretty basic but I got a tip from a 2Y to always carry some mints or gum just in case. Don't drink too much, obviously. It's definitely a good idea to have a few memorable conversations with firm representatives at this point, because they are about to start cutting. A little self effacing humor is a great tool. Tooting your own horn too much is not.

At this point, if firms return, they will start doing invite-only events. Some firms do just one invite only event while others will do 3-4. It may be cocktails, but more likely it will be dinner. We also had things like golf and wine-tastings. My best suggestion is to start working on dinner etiquette skills as soon as you can so you are comfortable when the situation arises. If you are uncomfortable and thinking about how to eat and drink, you definitely won't be at your social best - so practice. Eat with your mouth shut; this should really go unsaid, but it seems to be tremendously challenging for some people. Practice, now, every day. Your bread plate is on your left, your water is on your right. BMW (bread, meal, water from left to right) is a good way to remember. Don't be the guy that uses the wrong plate or drinks from the wrong glass and makes everyone have to pass stuff around the table; that sucks. If you get butter for your bread, use your knife and take some butter and put it on your own plate. Do not butter your entire roll all at once. Tear off a bite-sized piece of bread, butter that from the butter already on your plate, and eat. After you have used a utensil, do not put it back on the table. After you use your butter knife, put it on your plate. Don't plank your knife (lean it on the plate onto the table), or any utensils for that matter; place the whole thing on the edge of your plate. When you use your utensils, start from the outside in; the if the restaurant is any good they will take away utensils you don't need, and add ones you do as you proceed through your meal. In the US, you should hold your fork in your left hand and cut with the knife in your right hand, then switch your fork to your right hand to deliver food to your mouth. Generally, you don't want to 'point-and-shoot' by keeping the fork in your left hand to deliver food to your mouth. Only cut with your knife, no matter how soft the food is. Don't use your fork to cut any food, even if it is fish or anything like that, use your knife. Cut off a single bit at a time. Do not cut up your entire meal all at once. I'd also recommend taking really small bites when you are at recruiting dinner because you want to be able to respond to questions without choking on your food. Try to order as many courses as everyone else is ordering. You don't want to be the only one to order an appetizer while everyone else watches you eat; but you also don't want to be the only one that doesn't have soup while everyone else is eating. It may be obvious, but don't order the most expensive thing on the menu, and don't order anything that is market price. Unless you are at a rib joint, don't order ribs or anything you have to eat with your hands. Unless you are very comfortable at the table, don't order anything with messy sauces (like spaghetti). If you are at a loss, ask your host for a suggestion.

These are just basic tips, but I'd definitely suggest picking up some kind of etiquette manual and getting in plenty of table manners practice before recruiting begins. The people that were most comfortable with this definitely did better during recruiting. So, that's what I can think of for now. It's really a combination of knowing what to do, and also being comfortable in each setting. Don't just read a book though; practice, practice, practice. I'm interested to hear comments from people at other schools and looking at other industries, and I'll try to add stuff as I think of it.

links to parts 1 & 2

http://gmatclub.com/forum/guide-to-recruiting-and-schmoozing-part-58003.html
http://gmatclub.com/forum/guide-to-recruiting-and-schmoozing-part-2-what-to-wear-58068.html
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 03 Feb 2008, 01:40
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pelihu wrote:
Don't use your fork to cut any food, even if it is fish or anything like that, use your knife. Cut off a single bit at a time.


All good stuff. Kudos!!!

A few other pointers :- Generally you should get a knife wish is specifically for fish, if you have ordered a fish dish....

Also here are tips for Chinese/Japanese cuisine (in case you are taken out to those style of restaurants).

BOTH
Don't stick your chopsticks in the rice so that they are pointed out. putting sticks into rice is something that is done at funerals.
ALways put your chopsticks onto the chopstick holder after you have finished the current dish.


Chinese
Food is usually shared. It's not 1 plate each, it's usually a set of dishes in the middle. Don't grab a plate and park it by yourself. You can ask someone on the other side of the table to pass the plate over, grab what you want and pass it back.
When pouring tea. Always pour your own tea last. It should be poured in the order of most senior to least senior (usually oldest to youngest) and yourself last.
Scooping rice into your mouth directly from the bowl is acceptable


Japanese
Don't pass food from chopstick to chopstick.
Always fill up the drinks of everyone around you. Never fill your own up, someone else should do that for you. If you don't want to drink anymore, leave your glass full!
Common plates need to have individual chopsticks or spoon for you to take the food. Never use your own chopsticks
If handling raw meat (e.g. Yakiniku/ shabu shabu or Nabe) and no extra chopsticks have been provided. Use the opposite end of the chopstick to grab the meat to cook.
Japanese rice is usually sticky. Do not scoop the rice into your mouth, You need to pick it up in clumps.

Business Card etiquette
Accept the card with BOTH hands and look at it. Put it on the table to your right hand side. NEVER put it into your pocket. Always put it into your wallet or into a business card holder afterwards.
When offering business cards, always offer it with the native language of the recipient faced upwards.
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 03 Feb 2008, 07:53
Nice, pelihu! You're selling me on Darden without even trying :-D
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 03 Feb 2008, 19:24
Thanks Pelihu, another great edition!

:-D
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 04 Feb 2008, 00:19
pelihu wrote:
So, as I see it, this is probably the most important aspect to successful recruiting. Etiquette includes not just manners when you sit down at dinner, but also how you act at company presentations, how you behave at events, and perhaps most importantly how you interact with fellow students. So, let's try to look at each step of the recruiting process.

<snip>
Firms absolutely definitely notice when people are too pushy, and they don't like it. I have many many examples of people who are plenty smart but just didn't have any self-awareness and ended up making no closed lists. I suggest supporting your fellow classmates,


I am somewhat surprised by this. I am not surprised that there are pushy jerks in B-school but, given that Darden is famous for being collaborative, why would they have selected Darden (or vice-versa)? Does someone from the school, perhaps career development, work with these people and try to point them in the right direction? If getting an interview by bidding for the last 25% of available interview slots is not productive, (after all the firm already knows that your are a poor fit) then these people are on the road to ruin. Perhaps their learning team could stage an intervention... :)

pelihu wrote:
<snip>
In the US, you should hold your fork in your left hand and cut with the knife in your right hand, then switch your fork to your right hand to deliver food to your mouth. Generally, you don't want to 'point-and-shoot' by keeping the fork in your left hand to deliver food to your mouth.



Ah, this might be a hard habit to break. I grew up in house with one American parent and one outlander and was given a choice at an early age that was basically, "pick one side of the ocean and stick with it." It is funny how those lessons that your parents tried to drum into you at early age seem more valuable when faced with eating in the company of ones (potential) employer.
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 04 Feb 2008, 08:55
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pelihu wrote:
<snip>
In the US, you should hold your fork in your left hand and cut with the knife in your right hand, then switch your fork to your right hand to deliver food to your mouth. Generally, you don't want to 'point-and-shoot' by keeping the fork in your left hand to deliver food to your mouth.



Ah, this might be a hard habit to break. I grew up in house with one American parent and one outlander and was given a choice at an early age that was basically, "pick one side of the ocean and stick with it." It is funny how those lessons that your parents tried to drum into you at early age seem more valuable when faced with eating in the company of ones (potential) employer.
Help!


Same here, we just don't do that over here. Will be hard to practice, too, as noone else does it. But oh well, maybe I'll get an internationals-bonus. ;)
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 04 Feb 2008, 10:13
I think an important thing I have seen people let slip is that they forget who they are recruiting with, and how that industry will work - and that applies to all industry sets. This will make sense, I promise.

Letting your guard down, being stupid and blowing up at a bank (hey, it's what I know) can have a lot larger repercussions than a lot of people like to think. They often think that it will be a bit bad, but it is only one bank and there are twelve.

While this is true, you have to remember that you will, typically, recruit with alum (assuming your school has a solid presence at the company). These alum were where you are about 4-5 years ago. Read that as they made a lot of friends at school, recruiting for the same industry. Good friends who became their drinking buddies, and meet and speak to regularly - still. If you make a fool of yourself, you have to consider the way it will go. The person who sees it, if you blow up badly, might just go and call his friend - an alum at another bank - to tell the tale. Maybe two or three people - tip them off. Consequently they may pass it on to another couple. Quickly you can find that you have suddenly written off about half of the industry, or at least put yourself on a weaker stand-point to your peers, and people are watching out for you.

I have seen a few people blow up badly, and their interviews across the industry were significantly effected. I am pretty confident this is why - the alum want to look after the name of the school as much as anyone, and will share information. Blowing up at some companies is likely to happen - it just does in really overt ways. What you really must avoid is doing something that would ever make you think they might want to tell others about it, because then you are in big trouble.

I know this all may sound a bit daft, but I have seen some very smart people wipe themselves out across NYC industry-wide by losing their cool, saying things in the heat of the moment and just ruining their recruitment as a result.
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 04 Feb 2008, 10:37
This is an excellent thread and reminds me of all the valuable lessons I learned in the undergrad fraternity days!

One more suggestion:

For the brief time that you're actually drinking something (water, wine, etc.) don't look around the table - focus both eyes on your drink. We were charged $1 every time we were caught looking around while drinking at our formal dinners!
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 04 Feb 2008, 10:57
helpslip wrote:
pelihu wrote:
So, as I see it, this is probably the most important aspect to successful recruiting. Etiquette includes not just manners when you sit down at dinner, but also how you act at company presentations, how you behave at events, and perhaps most importantly how you interact with fellow students. So, let's try to look at each step of the recruiting process.

<snip>
Firms absolutely definitely notice when people are too pushy, and they don't like it. I have many many examples of people who are plenty smart but just didn't have any self-awareness and ended up making no closed lists. I suggest supporting your fellow classmates,


I am somewhat surprised by this. I am not surprised that there are pushy jerks in B-school but, given that Darden is famous for being collaborative, why would they have selected Darden (or vice-versa)? Does someone from the school, perhaps career development, work with these people and try to point them in the right direction? If getting an interview by bidding for the last 25% of available interview slots is not productive, (after all the firm already knows that your are a poor fit) then these people are on the road to ruin. Perhaps their learning team could stage an intervention... :)

Help!


You are right about Darden's collaborative nature, which really makes the few people that are jackasses stand out. Darden does interview 100% of admitted students, and I believe all those in the US are required to interview on campus. This definitely goes a long way towards weeding out the jerks, but it's just one 30-45 minute meeting and some people get through. Also, some international students interview locally, so standards can vary a bit in those cases. Extreme competitiveness is viewed as a plus in certain cultures.

I completely agree with 3underscore that word gets around quickly. I a few stories that illustrate this point; the first is from our Week on Wall Street. I was invited to dinner with a firm (we'll call it firm A) on Monday night. On Tuesday night, I had dinner with another firm B (both would be considered among the 3 most popular for this year) and the person I sat next to asked what I did the night before. I told them I had dinner with Firm A and he responded, oh yeah, you sat next to such and such. How was that? It's unbelievable how quickly word got around - they knew exactly who was invited to closed events at other firms. I have another example from interview season. A firm (firm C) that I had become well acquainted with didn't make me an offer. We both knew this was perhaps because they weren't a "top 5 bank" and I had great traction most of the top 5 and was unlikely to accept their offer. I did in fact receive an offer later that evening at about 7PM from firm D. I joined firm D for a few cocktails, and when I returned home at 10PM that night, I had an email waiting from firm C basically saying we're sorry things didn't work out but we heard it through the grapevine that you got good news from firm D. I was just thinking, how in the heck did they get this info? I just barely found out myself and I didn't tell anyone yet! So, yes, if you make an ass out of yourself at an event, a lot of other banks will know about it as well.

Regarding the 'point and shoot' eating technique, I think it's fine if you are European. People seem to accept that that is the custom there. I will also add that it is totally inappropriate to shovel food into your mouth, or to grip your spoon or fork with your whole hand. It's hard to describe, so an etiquette book or video would be valuable if there are any questions.
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 04 Feb 2008, 18:08
I do have to add. Western etiquette is a cakewalk compared to Far Eastern etiquette.

If you ever have a business meeting in Volcanic baths!!!!! :lol:
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 04 Feb 2008, 18:43
I understand such things are de rigeur these days and I genuinely appreciate the effort pelihu is put into this thread. But I am actually a little disappointed that such "Western" notions of etiquette play such a huge role in recruiting even in this day and age.

In an ideal world, a lot more cultural sensitivity would be shown and a student would be recruited based purely on his ability and not how he cuts his food, how he holds his glass, or where he places his bread plate etc. Or is the whole "we seek international diversity" bit a pure marketing gimmick.

I did not grow up in a culture with such a ritualistic approach to dining, so maybe this is just a rant. I know I will have trouble with such things later on in my career. :|
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 04 Feb 2008, 18:51
I know what you mean. In my culture, eating with a spoon or some such utensil rather than with one's bare hand is considered disrespectul to the food we consume. I have never used a fork/spoon before coming to the US. Sometimes, these etiquette rules sound very silly, but having decided to compete in the US job market we will have to adapt or perish. Sigh!

Nevertheless, great insight pelihu. Your guide is extremely useful to me.

solaris1 wrote:
I understand such things are de rigeur these days and I genuinely appreciate the effort pelihu is put into this thread. But I am actually a little disappointed that such "Western" notions of etiquette play such a huge role in recruiting even in this day and age.

In an ideal world, a lot more cultural sensitivity would be shown and a student would be recruited based purely on his ability and not how he cuts his food, how he holds his glass, or where he places his bread plate etc. Or is the whole "we seek international diversity" bit a pure marketing gimmick.

I did not grow up in a culture with such a ritualistic approach to dining, so maybe this is just a rant. I know I will have trouble with such things later on in my career. :|
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 04 Feb 2008, 19:07
ncprasad wrote:
I know what you mean. In my culture, eating with a spoon or some such utensil rather than with one's bare hand is considered disrespectul to the food we consume. I have never used a fork/spoon before coming to the US. Sometimes, these etiquette rules sound very silly, but having decided to compete in the US job market we will have to adapt or perish. Sigh!

Nevertheless, great insight pelihu. Your guide is extremely useful to me.


Here's a tip.... Use the cultural diversity when eating to strike up interesting conversation :) . People are generally interested in cultural differences, and if you show yourself to be adaptable in this area, it will add extra plus points when applying to an international company. You're not going to send a culturally ignorant person on an international business trip so being culturally aware has its advantages too.

I learned a lot when i was in Bangalore about Indian culture.
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 04 Feb 2008, 19:39
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solaris1 wrote:
I understand such things are de rigeur these days and I genuinely appreciate the effort pelihu is put into this thread. But I am actually a little disappointed that such "Western" notions of etiquette play such a huge role in recruiting even in this day and age.

In an ideal world, a lot more cultural sensitivity would be shown and a student would be recruited based purely on his ability and not how he cuts his food, how he holds his glass, or where he places his bread plate etc. Or is the whole "we seek international diversity" bit a pure marketing gimmick.


I think it is more market appropriate, and Pelihu is guiding for US recruiting. I am certain that Asia and Europe are entirely different in the way that people engage, etiquette and a whole manner of other elements. It is more that if you want to work in a market and represent the company there, they need to be confident you can interact successfully as a sales-person in that market. That itself is a culturally sensitive thing - some bits are more important than others dependent on your background and ability anyway, but they need to be comfortable that it won't negatively affect the company.
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 04 Feb 2008, 20:09
I dont eat meat, and it always embarrasses my host when i mention that. Not tht i care too much abt it and am happy with it. While i do reassure that it is fine, i usually end up with a sandwich/Panini and thts difficult to eat with a fork. I have to use my hands. Help!!!
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 04 Feb 2008, 21:38
toDoorNot wrote:
I dont eat meat, and it always embarrasses my host when i mention that. Not tht i care too much abt it and am happy with it. While i do reassure that it is fine, i usually end up with a sandwich/Panini and thts difficult to eat with a fork. I have to use my hands. Help!!!


Most dinners I've been to include nicer options than a sandwich - recruiters usually like to wine and dine you a bit and will give you better chow. At a great restaurant in Durham I had this fabulous thing with winter vegetables, phylo, mushrooms and 6 shakes of some kind of magic. My point is, you probably won't get stuck with a sandwich.

On a similar note, I used to be vegetarian. I'm not anymore, but still don't eat much meat. I often want to get the veggie item, but do wonder if the recruiters might judge....people DO get defensive around vegetarians. So far, so good, I guess, but I wonder.

I would add one comment to Pelihu's detailed desciptions: While there are definitely accepted etiquette codes, they are not written in stone and do vary. For example, I did an etiquette dinner in college with a guy who used to be head snobby butler or some such at the White House. He actually prefers the "point and shoot" method, and said it's common enough in the states. He - and others, according to him - find that the American style of switching hands is awkward and inefficient.

My point isn't that one thing is right or wrong, but that there is some variance. And while it may vary by industry (I spent time with consultants, GMs, and commercial bankers, but no IB), in my experiences I didn't get the feeling that the recruiters were being very particular about the highest-level niceties. Don't chew with your mouth open and do be part of the natural flow of the meal. But I didn't see many people worrying overly much about exactly where you've placed your fork. I am not surprised that IB seems different.
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 04 Feb 2008, 21:39
Oh, and Peli, what about not eating until the recruiter starts? People tend to take that cue from the recruiter, though it can be awkward if the recruiter's chatting away and we're all thinking about our cooling salmon!
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2008, 10:43
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aaudetat wrote:
Oh, and Peli, what about not eating until the recruiter starts? People tend to take that cue from the recruiter, though it can be awkward if the recruiter's chatting away and we're all thinking about our cooling salmon!


Definitely agree with that. There's generally someone from the firm that's in charge, generally the most senior person there. It's a good idea to wait until they start before digging in. Perhaps even more important, you should definitely wait until everyone at the table has been served before starting.

I also agree that the applicability of these guidelines vary depending on industry; and according to individual. Some people won't care, while others will definitely notice. It's better to be well polished on the basics because it's silly to get dinged for something like this - and I can assure you it happens. Generally, IB seems to be more formalized, perhaps because they host more sit-down dinners and senior bankers tend to get involved in the recruiting process. If you're just having dinner with some people from HR or something like that then things are different; it's also different if you're mostly dealing with more junior people.
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2008, 14:14
So I can`t butter my bread, shout `Food Fight!!` and throw it at the head recruiter? :lol:
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2008, 14:49
Thanks peli and toga (for the Asian perspective) for the great guidelines!

As AAu said, these are only guidelines and are not set rules, but if you just happen to be with recruiters who really care about these things (like the one who said he would not interview anyone who wears a black suit), then you will be shooting yourself in the foot. Don't stand out in a bad way, that's the key thing.

Question for peli, what if you're left handed? Do you cut with your left and hold the fork in the right hand, then switch to eat with the left? :)
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Re: Guide to Recruiting and Schmoozing - Part 3 - Etiquette   [#permalink] 05 Feb 2008, 14:49
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