Pre-interview Dinners & Socials (P.S. It’s An Interview)


“I got accepted to a first round interview at a Big 4 firm for a full time internship during the winter. They invited me to a Pre-Night dinner at a local steakhouse tonight. Dress is business casual. Any tips on how to conduct myself or things to talk about, or are these things purely behavioral?” (source)

I remember when I was invited to my first PwC office visit.

I thought it was just a tour of the office, see the kitchen, and see what it was like to working in public accounting.

Luckily, I told a friend of mine who informed me this was a full on interview process where I’d be interviewed by three people at the firm!

Bullet dodged.

The same goes for anyone who is preparing for the “pre-interview socials”, often times a dinner.

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Think of it like a date, does the woman (or man) ever really stop judging you?

Every single thing you say, do, and wear are all giving an impression.

What are you saying?

These pre-interview socials are not different.

Here’s a thought experiment:

Imagine yourself sitting at the table, and everyone from the company is saying in their head: “If he (she) acted, dressed, and talked this way in front of a client, would we be proud to have him (her) represent the firm?”

In all honesty, that’s the purpose of the event.

The pre-interview social is just as much an interview as any other part of the process. It’s a public group interview so prepare accordingly.

NOTE: Learn more in the short version of my eBook, “The Interview”.

Here are some questions I’d ask to people at the firm:

  • How long have you been at the firm?
  • What type of clients do you work on?
  • How often do you travel?
  • Where did you go to University?
  • Are you from “X” city? (city where you’re at)
  • How many living grandparents do you have?(Kidding, but seriously don’t be weird)

Here are some things I wouldn’t do:

  • Don’t act competitive with the other students, be collaborative, make conversation
  • Try not to order spaghetti or any other slurp-able foods
  • Don’t order alcohol as a general rule. If you do, don’t drink more than 2, 1 if you can’t handle alcohol
  • Don’t talk over the group, listen and ask question more than you talk about yourself

Here are some things I would do:

  • Thank every person with a follow up email
  • If it’s the night before the interview, wait until the morning after the interview to send thank you notes
  • Make sure you send it to ever person you met with
  • Ask for business cards at the end of the night, when you’re walking to the cars
  • Don’t go out with the other interviewees drinking or to bars, it’s game time in the morning, get some rest
  • Smile, sit up straight, make eye contact
  • Pay attention when anyone is talking, even (especially) other interviewees. The competition doesn’t stop when you get hired so they want to see how your treat your fellow competitors
  • I like talking about sex, politics, and religion but you can’t do it at this event
  • Try and relate to other stories but don’t make things up. For example if someone talks about their trip to Mexico, you could say at some point, “I love Mexico, went to Puerto Vallarta last year” assuming it actually happened!

You’ve made it this far, they like you.

It’s really yours to loose at this point. If you’re curious, enthusiastic, and not weird, you’ll be crush it!