Thursday, July 11, 2019
Cranky Recruiter: An Informational Interview Gone Wrong
Now, as a recruiter with a career advice blog, often I have job seekers asking me for an informational interview to help them with their job search. I'm happy to do that. After one recent encounter I wrote a post about common interview questions. I also put up some posts that were helpful, and included my interview blooper reel. But one past blooper was not on there. One informational interview went terribly wrong.
A couple of years ago, a young wine business analyst asked to grab coffee with me. She wanted to find out how she could improve her interviewing abilities and get a better job. I was happy to give her an hour of my time when I was in wine country. And after how horribly the meeting went, I'm happy to share what not to do in an informational interview.
Dressing for an informational interview, or bedtime? When she arrived, she looked a bit unkempt. Her hair was hastily tied up in a bun and she was wearing a wrinkly shirt and jeans. I could look past this if she was looking for winemaking, vineyard management or other types of production work. But she wanted a job in finance. If there is any group that I would expect to be dressed professionally for an interview, it is the finance and accounting group. I think I dress nicer when I'm gardening than this woman dressed for our meeting.
Be Prepared: While I like to save paper and store all of my resume on my iPad, I often check to see if someone, especially in an informational interview situation, is prepared with a resume, references, or even a pen. This woman had nothing. I did have her resume on my device, but she should really be prepared to wow an interviewer.
Know What You Want: After some niceties, we settled into the usual questions about how her search was going. The first thing I wanted to know was what kind of job she wanted. She said she wanted finance roles, but had no real work experience in finance or accounting. When asked why she wanted finance, she didn't really know. She had some friends and family who had worked in those types of roles and thought that would be good for her. What? Roles your associates enjoy does not mean you will. Spend some time researching potential jobs and figure out what works well with your talents, experience and expectations. For help with that, take a look here: https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/quiz-what-job-best-fits-your-life/
Be Engaging: After exploring her job interests and her experience a bit, I told her she needed to really step up her interpersonal skills. She never really tried to connect with me about things, or ask me follow up questions during the meeting. She never asked anything about me. Ok, it is not all about me, but it does pay to at least engage a bit with the person across the table from you. They are giving you their time, so make them feel appreciated. I told her this could be a weakness of hers, which led me to the following,
Know Who You are Meeting: With all of our time being spent on her, I finally told her she really needs to do her homework when she asks someone to meet with her. I asked her what she knew about me. After a long pause she said, "I know you work for the company WineTalent." "And you are a woman." True on both points. But really, that was all she knew about me! Me, Cranky Recruiter, who blogs about the wine industry, has a website all about WineTalent, and maintains plenty of social media sites about me and WineTalent. I am all things WineTalent. President, founder, chief blogger, sole proprietor and lowly gofer. Yes, I work for the company WineTalent and hope one day the company recognizes me for all I've done for it. And I'm glad she figured I was a woman. Two great facts for her meeting with me.
Alright, Cranky Recruiter will get her second cup of coffee for the day. But still... I gave her my time and wanted to help her. She should have done some research on who she was meeting to make our time together its most productive.
Second cup of coffee now snugly in my hand. I stand behind my thoughts on this woman's engagement with me. But you have to know I have had countless positive informational interviews. And many have turned into great WineTalent placements. Yes, I am woman, hear me roar, and I'm happy to grab coffee anytime to help you with your job search. Just make it worth our while.