Courtney Crosby and Kelly Ayers are your MPA Peer Career Consultants.  They’ve successfully navigated the MPA recruiting process and want to help you do the same.  Check out their posts here each week for valuable recruiting tips.

Missed the first post with their top recruiting tips? You can read it here! 

Pre-Interview Dinner Tips

As you gear up for interviews, many of you might be unsure of what a pre-interview dinner entails. The following provides some general information on the structure of the dinner and what to expect from the event:

Pre-Interview Dinner Structure:

  • Arrival: Typically the firms will segment their representatives by city and by practice for networking purposes. After you sign in, look for your respective city and track and join a conversation.
  • Dinner: You will most likely be assigned a table with other students and a couple of firm representatives. Often times, one of the representatives at your table will be the individual interviewing you the next day.
  • Post-dinner: Follow the lead of your host as to when to stand up from your table and be sure to thank each employer representative at your table before exiting. You will now have the opportunity to do more networking and ask any last minute questions prior to the interview.

The pre-interview dinner is an opportunity for the firms to get to know you better and begin to assess whether they see you as a good fit for their company. You will be able to interact with the people you will see throughout the recruiting process in addition to receiving important information regarding how the actual interview will be conducted the following day. Below are some helpful hints to read over before attending the event:

  • It is really beneficial to speak to several representatives during the networking segments of the event. Meeting several different people will allow the firm to get a better idea of who you are while in turn helping you to gain a better understanding of the firm’s culture and personality, which could factor into your ultimate decision.
  • Having the interviewer seated next to you at the dinner might seem intimidating, but it is really an opportunity. I always felt so much more at ease walking into the interview room the next day and seeing a familiar face.
  • Make sure you are always engaged and participating in the conversation even if everyone at the table is discussing something you know nothing about. For example, if the table is discussing a television show you have never seen, take the initiative to ask about it. Employers want to see how you interact with others, so always express interest and be receptive to the topics discussed.
  • Act in a professional manner, employ proper etiquette, and stick to appropriate conversation topics (i.e. avoid politics, religion, and other controversial subjects)

This week will be a really busy one with interviews and dinners happening every day and night so start preparing now. Make sure you work ahead on any school assignments that are due, perform your company research, and get plenty of sleep!

Courtney Crosby and I will be offering you words of advice throughout your recruiting journey this semester, so be sure to check out our posts in the newsletter each week! And, as always, if you have any questions about recruiting and want to talk about how to prepare, please feel free to email us at or come to our walk-in hours on Tuesday 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 – 5 p.m., Wednesday 9 – 11 a.m., and Thursday 11 a.m. – Noon. Until next week…good luck with the interview preparation!

Submitted by Kelly Ayers