It’s a nice hustle.
You schedule this “interview”, you miraculously are granted one (because you called in a favor from a friend), and then it happens.
There’s only one reason people ask for these – they think it will lead to a job offer at the end of the conversation.
Has this happened? Yes. Does it happen sometimes? Sure. But it’s a numbers game you are going to lose.
Informational interviews are about you, not the company. The reason you are there is transparent to your interviewer. You want a job.
They know what you want the instant you walk in, and they are wasting their time with you to fulfill that favor requested of them.
It’s practically dishonest.
This is why the career gods and Reid Hoffman invented LinkedIn.
This is where you ask and answer questions about industries and companies. This is where you make authentic and professional connections with colleagues in your field (or desired field). This is where you can reach out to someone you respect and ask a legitimate question about how to break through the wall and get over to the other side.
People argue with me day and night about this site. They keep trying to give me reasons why it’s not all it’s hyped up to be. I think the arguers aren’t trying hard enough.
You can ask anyone on earth a legit question online and the majority will answer, even if it’s a brief response. You can approach anyone at a networking event and ask them anything. The overwhelming majority will converse with you. Just make sure you have your paragraph ready.
There’s a huge difference between a job shadow and this bogus interview. If you find someone willing to let you follow them around, it has to be with the expressed understanding that you only wish to learn from them; make it clear than no suggestion of employment will follow.
CEO’s almost never say no to me when I reach out to them, and it’s not because I’m a charmer. I am asking for their personal and specific predictions of future job keywords, so that I can help my department director and curriculum in keeping everyone aware of trends in the media business. I tell them I am not looking for a job – not today and not tomorrow. I am asking them for knowledge about their industry, knowledge I can pass on to students.
We also rarely meet in person. I reach out on LinkedIn and Xing. Time is not something busy people has a surplus of. I have to respect that.
Forget the informational “it’s about me” interview.
Connect. Give back. Pay forward. That’s some good information you’ve got there in your brain.
John Scott is the author of “Destination: Reinvention”, now on sale in the Amazon book store.
“Reinvention: You, Only Better” . John’s one-hour Google hangout on organizing and amplifying your job search.
April 11th, 2013, 7pm PDT.