A social interview is when they take you to lunch or dinner, invite you to attend company social event or conference or take you to a professional association meeting. There are actually two purposes for this type of interview.
The first purpose is to get to know you in a more informal way to determine if you are really a good fit with the team. In today’s increasingly team-based work environment compatibility with the team is crucial to success. Remember, they already know that you can do the job, now they are determining if you will be a productive member of the team.
The second purpose is to see how you perform in a social setting, especially if you will be interacting with customers or prospects in public. It’s presentation (how you carry yourself), networking and manners (yes, mother was right, they are important).
Understand this is not a break from the interviewing process but part of it. Doing fine may not gain you major points, but doing poorly can hurt you irreparably.
A few tips:
oYou are not there for the food.
oDon’t eat anything messy or drippy (or if you MUST, make sure it matches your suit so it won’t show so much).
oWatch your table manners (mother was never this critical)
oThink of the way you would work the table at a business lunch and duplicate it – don’t dominate, include everyone, be unfailingly polite.
oSometimes it isn’t as clearly part of the interview process. If you’re invited to a company event or something similar the same rules apply – this is an interview, not a social event. Be sociable but be on your guard.