As part of your short-list visit to campus, you can expect to be hosted for dinner usually at a nice restaurant (although it could be at a faculty member’s house). This will come at the end of what has already been a long day. Don’t relax. This dinner will be all work and no play. From a practical standpoint, it would be good if you have time to clean up a bit after your long day. If you brought something else to wear that is appropriate to the occasion, then changing into those clothes would be helpful. If you order, try to order food for which there is no chance of it spilling on to you or others (red Italian sauces should be off the list). Aim for a price point that is in the middle of the menu and that doesn’t stand out. If you have special dietary needs, those should he communicated to the host before you travel. You may be offered an adult beverage (i.e. alcohol) either before or during dinner. Politely decline it. The offer is, among other things, a test of your judgement for which there is only one correct answer. You will need to be completely sober during the dinner. Note that the other attendees may well imbibe a bit.
The dinner will be a continuation of the interview process. It may masquerade as convivial conversation, but it is not. Each opportunity for you to converse will be analyzed by the attendees for the key factors of: intelligence, fitting in and good judgement. All of these are considered to be necessary for the success in the search. Do not discuss politics or volunteer your political opinions. Do not monopolize the conversation. Try to actively listen to each person as they speak. Make eye contact with the other attendees as they are speaking. Often, it’s a good idea to feed their question back to them as a question in order to buy time to think and to make certain that you both are on the same page.
At the end of the evening, make certain to explicitly thank the host and the other attendees for their time and hospitality. And you aren’t off camera until you are back in your hotel room with the door closed. Don’t even think about going out afterwards.