by Dr. Sherry-Ann Brown
There were some great pieces of advice that I received before heading out to faculty dinners when I first start interviewing for faculty jobs. Then I picked up a few tips on my own after going to a few. Here are five that you might find useful. Check them out, attend a few, and see if you agree.
1. Most people have elsewhere that they could be, and for some people, elsewhere they would rather be. Those are my words. When I first given this tip, the words I was told were actually: "No one wants to be there"! I found that to be partially true. Some people really seemed to enjoy the opportunity to catch up with their friends and indulge in the new offerings on the menu, especially the desserts!
2. Even those who are happy to indulge and reunite with co-workers outside of the office or the hospital are happy to leave at some point and not overextend the evening. So, don't order something else off the menu that will require the evening to drag on after everyone's done and looking ready to leave. I found that when I offered to end the evening early, many people would insist on staying for dessert. If I ever were among folks who weren't interested in dessert and if I actually was looking forward to dessert after being spoiled so many times, then on that one occasion, I ordered dessert to go! Dessert arrived with the check, and it was perfect for everyone!
3. People who show up at dinner and actually want to talk to you just want to see that you can 'hang'. That you can sit around a table leisurely with your colleagues and chat about life and BE A PERSON. It's ok to be real, be yourself, and be friendly - just don't say anything really silly and always be thoughtful. Hopefully, that's your own self at baseline anyway. After all, you want to be around people with whom you're comfortable, if you will be working with them all day or all night or both for a long time to come!
4. If work must be discussed at dinner, sprinkle the conversation with chats on where people live and why, what there is to do in the area, where they like to eat, and so on. It's ok to care about people in the midst of any residual work discussions that must occur.
5. Dress professionally, at the very least business casually. Wear your interview suit, or a professional dress. Remember that most people coming to dinner are coming straight from work, and so they will be dressed up too! Look and be the part.