Important Notice:
This site has moved to, please update your bookmarks. If you were looking for a specific post, you can use the site search option, archives, or categories at the new domain to find it. Thank you!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

informational interview when you've already applied for a job

A reader writes:

I recently applied for a job with a closing date of a week and a half ago. A colleague of mine also applied to this organization (for a different position) and was told by a representative from this organization at a career fair today that the best way to "keep himself in the running" was to email the department he was applying to and ask for a 20-30 minute informational interview. I've always thought that an informational interview was only for when you weren't directly asking for a job, not once you've already applied.

Should I follow my colleague's tip and email the department I've applied to, or would I ruin my chances by requesting a short informational interview?

That's really odd. You're right; informational interviews are normally not for when you're applying for a particular job, but rather for learning about a field you're new to or otherwise want an insider point of view on. (Of course, lots of people try to use them as a back door to a job, but that's a different rant.) And if a candidate asked for an informational interview while also being considered for a job, it wouldn't come across much differently than "I'd like to schedule my job interview now, please."

So either this company has an unusual way of doing things (which is entirely possible), or the person who advised your colleague didn't really know what she was talking about (also entirely possible). Either way, your colleague should take the advice -- since it very well might be good advice for this company -- but should specifically say that Jill Smith or whoever advised him to request the meeting. That way, if Jill Smith was misinformed, the employer won't blame your friend.

You're in a different boat though. First, you can't attribute your request to Jill Smith, because she didn't make the recommendation to you. And second, Jill Smith's advice might have been specific to the department your friend is applying to. So then you're back to it normally being a really weird request in the middle of an application process. Thus, I would err on the side of safety and proceed as if your friend had never told you this -- i.e., don't ask for the informational interview.

Anyone want to argue this one differently?


StaffingStarr said...

It's great to see that the reader is open to a "colleague's" creative approach to getting a job. However, can I present a different point of view? It's possible that the "colleague" is trying to mislead the reader with bad advice to eliminate competition. Job fair reps(usually HR or Recruiters)don't usually encourage job seekers to bypass them and pursue direct contact with hiring managers. Although the reader and the colleague aren't applying for the same job, they're competing for a spot in the company. The colleague might be qualified for both positions, or maybe one position is no longer available. It can be even simpler, the colleague might not want the reader following him to another company. In today's job market, competition is FIERCE, and as seen on The APPRENTICE, it can also be DIRTY. You don't have to play the game, but at least be aware of how job search strategies have changed...