A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about conducting informational interviews. Today, I noticed that Marci Alboher added a different perspective to the topic by discussing her pet peeves about informational interviews in her New York Times blog.
In her article, Ms. Alboher (she called me Mr. Wilson) specifically mentioned 4 pet peeves:
1. Never overstay your welcome. Whether it’s lingering too long in person or on the phone or engaging in too much follow-up, it’s important to read signals and respond accordingly. I’m currently being stalked — by e-mail, IM, and now Facebook, by someone who wants me to be his mentor. He’s blown it. Never, ever IM someone you don’t know, unless there is some odd situation in which they’ve made it known that’s an appropriate thing to do.
2. Always think of how to give back to those who give you time. It may take years to do it, but if you keep it on your mind, one day you’ll figure out how.
3. Be prepared. It means something different in each context. At minimum do a Google search. Make a point to keep up with what’s going on in that person’s world. If the person’s employer has just had a managment shakeup, for example, read about it and try to understand what it could mean for that person.
4. Don’t presume anything. I’ll never forget when a young lawyer e-mailed me asking if he could drop by my office to meet and talk careers the next week. First of all, my friends don’t even “drop by” for meetings with me, so there’s no way that was going to work. Second, I work at home, which made the request a little creepy.
It’s important to think from the interviewee’s perspective. I haven’t been approached for an informational interview, so I can’t speak from that perspective. So thanks to Marci Alboher for adding her very important perspective.