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Can We Meet for Coffee or Lunch?

Lunch Interview

Recruiters say informational interviews might feel good to job seekers but are usually a waste of time.

An informational interview is usually a waste of an executive recruiter’s time, said the anonymous manager and author of the “Ask a Manager” blog.

Most people who ask for an informational interview are usually trying to sneak an actual job interview, or they’re randomly trying to meet with anyone and everyone who might have a job for them, wrote the author in a post last June and a followup Monday.

If you ask me for an informational interview and I agree to meet with you, you are not supposed to use that time to try to get a job with me. If you would like me to hire you, lying about your reason for meeting with me is not a good start.

If you ask me for an informational interview and I agree to meet with you, you are not supposed to look at me blankly and wait for me to lead the conversation. You are supposed to come prepared with questions about the industry or whatever it is that inspired you to ask for my time in the first place.

MediaJobsDaily blogger Rachel Kaufman offers a rebuttal, suggesting most requests truly are for information and the in-person meeting is the only way to make the necessary connection.

I go on informational interviews to learn things I can’t learn through e-mail. What is this person like as a person? Is there passion there for the work, and do I feel like I could do the same work? And I want to show myself off in a way that’s hard to do via e-mail, even though I’m not asking outright for a job. Am I able to impress them enough that they’ll be willing to pass along a job lead to me versus their cousin or dentist’s brother? Do I stand a chance, if there is an opening available at this company, of getting it?

You can’t do that over e-mail. Those disappearing e-mailers were right all along.

Perhaps the best prescription is always to mind your manners. If a recruiter — or even better, someone influential in your industry — declines the offer to meet, the last thing you want to do is make an enemy. A thank-you is a start. It might also spawn an e-mail relationship (or Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter) that evolves into an invitation to meet.

For more on networking and interviewing:

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