I have a pre-interview dinner coming up the night before an interview for an internship position. I have never been to something like this before so I am not totally sure what to be expecting. I am aware of appropriate table etiquette and the like but I am unsure about the social atmosphere i will be getting myself into.I would definitely appreciate any tips you guys/gals can throw my way. Also, is this something that every candidate who gets an interview also gets a dinner invite? Thanks.
Pre-Dinner Interview Reception Drinks
As for drinks, it is ultimately your decision whether or not you decide to drink. A good note is to see if others are ordering drinks, and if they are, order a mixed drink (or non-alcoholic if you're underage) and sip on it throughout the night. First impressions are key and it would be unwise to drink excessively in front of your potential co-workers.
Potential Questions To Expect For The Dinner
These dinner interviews are firm's way to understand who you are as a person outside of your resume. Each firm has their own unique cultures which the interviewer wants to ensure that you are likeable and a quality fit to get along with full time employees.
You should also expect both behavioral and straightforward questions such as: your experiences, why XXX firm, and about the position. @F. Ro Jo gives beautiful advice on how to turn the dinner to your advantage:
if anything you should be using this as an opportunity to build your answers for the interview. You won't get an offer at the dinner but you can most certainly lose one.
Conversational Tips For The Interview Dinner
Before even heading to the dinner, there are a few recommendations you can do to prepare yourself:
- Use LinkedIn/contacts to find your interviewer's hobbies/sports team preferences
- Check latest sports results and gossip
- Brush up on proper dining etiquette
- Stay up to date about current market news/trends
- Be sociable, keep the conversation going
- Be genuine and prepared to talk about yourself honestly
- Smile and be engaged
What To Wear For The Interview Dinner
As with the dinner interview, it is better to be over dressed (tie and jacket) as you can dress down depending on the situation. Some tips in preparing your outfit:
- White shirt + dark tie
- Nice suit and pants
- Black or Brown shoes that match your belt
As for women @Mis Ind gives some good advice
- Evening handbags
- Dressier heels instead of day pumps or loafers
- Blouses instead of dress shirts
- More room for jewelry and personal style
Tips For Ordering Food During The Business Dinner Portion
Now onto the dinner itself, this comes down to either if the dinner is a la carte or if entrees are ordered. However, overall there are several guidelines and helpful tips to keep in mind:
- Let your Interviewer order first. Try to order food at the same price or slightly less.
- Try to eat light as you will be doing more talking than eating throughout the night
- Order easy to eat foods (try to take small bites and do not talk with food in your mouth)
- Do not order messy to eat food or "finger food"
Is It Acceptable To Skip The Pre-Dinner Interview?
General rule of thumb is no. Although the dinner is considered an optional event, unless there is a prior commitment such as a wedding or funeral, the firm will think that this position is not a high enough priority for you. It is recommended that you do everything in your power to have extra face time with your potential co-workers to increase your chances of getting an offer.
This all sounds difficult and stressful, but these dinners are informal and have an overall relaxed tone. Putting yourself out there with a professional but personable aura will give you a better shot with an offer. This is your opportunity to get to know higher ups on a more personal level as well as pick their brain a little.
While this dinner is still considered part of your interview process, it's important that you also enjoy yourself and the evening all together.
If you have another piece of advice please comment below!
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