A Manager Says ‘You Don’t Really Want An Informational Interview.’ We Say He’s Wrong.

Informational interviews, everyone says, are great for your career–they’ll help you decide on a direction, possibly dangle some juicy job tidbits your way, etcetera etcetera. We are huge fans of the informational interview and love giving them as well as, uh, taking them.

The anonymous Manager at Ask A Manager says most people don’t really want them, though, and here’s why:

“When I’m asked for an informational interview, I’ll generally explain that my workload usually prohibits that but that I’d be happy to answer the person’s questions by email.

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flickr: shareski

“The person is then never heard from again…This tells me: (a) The person didn’t actually want an informational interview and was hoping to turn it into a job interview without my consent, and/or (b) the person wouldn’t have had any plan had I agreed to meet, and it would have wasted my time.”

Here’s our counterpoint to that: People, do not turn an informational interview into a job interview—you know that’s bad form. But a true informational interview, over a cup of coffee, in person, is supposed to be more than a raw exchange of information. If I wanted information I’d Google it.

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.