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What to Expect at a Reception Before an Interview

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A pre-interview reception is a type of informal information session that allows job candidates to meet and find out more about the employer they’re going to be interviewed by. They are generally held on the evening before the day of the interviews. The reception typically lasts between 90 minutes and 2 hours, although you’re free to arrive and leave when you like. If your invitation to the reception doesn’t tell you what type of attire to wear, go for business casual. If the reception isn’t being held on the employer’s premises, it’ll be taking place in a venue such as a hotel, in which the case the invite may tell you to turn up in interview attire.


If you’re wondering what you’ll be expected to talk about at the reception, remember that it is simply an information session. It’s an opportunity for you as the job candidate to find out more about the organization you’ve applied to and the people who work there. It’s up to you to dictate the topic of conversation by asking the employer’s representatives whatever it is you want to know about the company and being an employee there.


The people representing the employer at the reception may be the people who are going to be interviewing you, or they may be other employees selected by the organization to meet and talk with you. At invitation-only receptions, the only people who should be there are the job interviewees and the employer’s representatives. However, if the reception is being held on a college campus, this may mean that it is open to any students wanting to find out more about the employer. In this case, expect some people who don’t have interviews with the employer but are interested in working for the company to be there.

Food and Drink

In some cases, you will be served food and drink at a reception. For example, the reception may take the form of a cocktail party or dinner. In these situations, it’s important to remember dining etiquette and to showcase flawless table manners. If you’re offered alcoholic drinks at the event, have just one at the most; none at all is even better. At a sit-down dinner, don’t dominate your table’s conversation. Instead, ask the other people at the table about themselves.


If your employer has chosen you to represent it at a pre-interview reception, be aware that the job candidates who show up will have plenty of questions about the company and what it’s like to work there. You probably won’t have to answer any questions about salary because the interviewees should know not to ask questions about salary prior to the interview.


Based in London, Autumn St. John has been writing career- and business-related articles since 2007. Her work has appeared in the "Guardian" and "Changing Careers" magazine. St. John holds a Master of Arts in Russian and East European literature and culture from University College London, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in modern history from the University of Oxford.

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