Alongside formal assessment, graduate schemes may also involve social events, especially if you’ve travelled and are staying overnight in an unfamiliar city. They offer you the chance to meet other people applying for the job, help you get to know the company culture better and whether it's right for you, and see what staff say about the organisation.
Here’s how to remain professional as well as to shine.
Social events may include meeting the rest of the team, for lunch or drinks, or networking with fellow interviewees. It’s a great way to show off more of your personality, knowledge and interests outside of work, but remember it is still a workplace function so don’t get too carried away!
Your behaviour at social events will still be noted - employers might want to see how you communicate and fit with other members of the team and others who might be joining you in the company. If your job will involve lots of interacting with customers or clients, it can be a great way to see how you might fare. It gives interviewers a chance to assess your body language, presentation, and overall personality, to see whether you would fit the company culture and your team.
It also gives you an insight as to what a company is like in their ‘downtime’.
Here are a few tips to help you get through a social interview:
Don’t drink too much!
By all means, indulge in a glass of wine or two, you will have certainly earned it after a long day of interviews and questions! But know your limits, know when you start to talk nonsense and might do something you regret.
Work the room
Talk to both other interviewees and colleagues-to-be. Try not to talk to one or two people the whole time, especially if they are someone senior and others also want to get a word in. Talking to lots of different people shows employers that you can communicate to a variety of individuals and you can show off how you might act at a client function.
Don’t completely relax
Remember that this is still a job interview and there will be people assessing your behaviour. Be yourself, but that formal version of yourself, so there is no disconnect between who you were earlier on in the day and who you are in a social setting. Remember to be polite and courteous, express your opinions and let others have their own.
Stay on message
Focus as much as possible on subjects which are relevant to the job application. Share information about your background, your interests and appropriate industry knowledge. However, avoid potentially difficult issues such as politics, personal beliefs or relationships and refrain from telling jokes.
Time your exit
You both don’t want to leave too early or too late at a social event. Try and leave when a few have already gone but you are not the last man standing! Let a few people know that you are leaving alongside a comment related to subject you were talking about. For example, ‘Good luck on the in-tray exercise' to another candidate or ‘I hope the bid goes well' to a current employee.