The Next Best Thing: Can’t Get an Interview? Set up a Meeting

Can't Get an Interview? Set up a Meeting!

September is right around the corner – you’ve been out there looking for a job all summer (or maybe even longer) only to be met with a barren wasteland or fully-staffed companies and limited opportunities. Companies are cutting the fat and streamlining work to the fewest number of people as possible these days – which means working longer hours and Outlook calenders full of meetings and appointments. If an HR rep is barely coming up for air, how are you supposed to expect them to schedule an hour or two of their day for an interview with you.

There are a million people out there giving job and career adviceĀ  – telling us how to nail an interview and find a job we love. But what if getting the actual interview is the problem? We’re so concerned with ‘getting the job’ that sometimes we fail to realize that the people who would be hiring us are human beings – people who need their morning coffee, a tasty lunch, or a couple happy-hour beers to sustain. That’s where you come in. Maybe you can’t land an interview – but an ‘informational’ meeting might be much more realistic and even more beneficial.

Informal is the way to go – and let’s people see the ‘real’ you

Interviews are one big show – you prepare, you review the script, you practice your lines, and finally the spotlight shines down on you. As I’m sure we all can attest, it’s a lot of pressure, it’s a grueling process, and often-times, it doesn’t provide people with a clear picture of what you’re like between the hash-marks (nine to five). You can walk into an interview with confidence and an ease of mind, but it’s still going to feel a little manufactured and unnatural. Setting up a lunch meeting at a local cafe get’s both parties on neutral ground and balances the ‘comfort playing field’.

Everyone loves coffee, or beer, or at least water

There’s nothing worse than sipping on day-old office brew while you run down the list of your greatest weaknesses and biggest accomplishments – Having a Carmel Macchiato or a frosty pint of Fat Tire in hand starts things off on a good note and sets the mood for an enjoyable (and productive) introductory meeting. Just make sure you let them order first before you make an ass of yourself and order a double Jack and Coke and a couple sidecars of Jager. Coming across as an afternoon alcoholic is never the first impression you want to make.

Don’t sell yourself, ask about them

Remember, this isn’t an interview – you don’t need to tell them why your the best candidate for a position that doesn’t even exist. Come prepared with questions but let the person your meeting talk about themselves. Showing a genuine interest in a person and the work they do is a form a flattery. Most of us, including myself, would be happy to meet with anyone who admired (or at least pretended to admire) the work we do and wanted to pick our brain. Focus on them and save ‘selling yourself’ for the actual interview.

Networking (offline) is key

Getting your foot in the door is half the battle. While landing an interview might be tricky, a trip to the local pub should be much easier to score. We talk so much about the power of social networking and using tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to further our personal brand – but truth be told, nothing replaces a live, face to face meeting. A potential employer being able to put a face with your name can be invaluable to you over the long haul. When something does open up, they’ll remember your fantastic rendition of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ at the karaoke bar that one Tuesday night a few months ago.

What’s the worst that can happen?

The best part? There’s basically nothing bad that can come from all this – you get to meet and speak with a person you admire or respect, put your own name out there, and enjoy a (hopefully) good meal. So the question is, “What are you waiting for?” If you’re finding that you can’t schedule an interview, take a different approach and start setting up meetings today.

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Have a story to share? An approach you took when you couldn’t get in the door for an interview? Share your experiences, for better or for worse, in the comments below!


54 Responses
  • Valerie M Reply

    I really hate how people see interviews as highly structured and that you must follow a script. I think that its most important to go out there and be your best self (which isn’t structured IMO). People notice that and they like it because it shows you are likeable. So I would suggest doing something that puts you in a positive mindset before you go.

    I also cannot stress enough how much being interested in the person works, whether you’re at an interview, a meeting, or anywhere. After all under the surface the other person is like you in many ways. The easiest way to do that is to assume rapport and you don’t have to be an extrovert to pull that off. I’m as introverted as it gets and doing that really works for me.

    Great post, Matt!

    • Trace Cohen Reply

      I think hate is a strong word as there are so many different companies out there that do do it in a very structured manor. While I personally hate “structure” myself there is some form of regime to go through for every interview.

      It’s the combination of the structure and being yourself that is the hard part for most people. The blend of how to answer loaded questions with some hint to your personal brand and why your the right person for the job.

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        Valerie and Trace – Ideally, we want to have the opportunity to really be ourselves during an interview – I pride myself on not ‘selling out’ and staying true to myself – but as Trace pointed out, it is no easy task to maintain a sense of comfort when being put on the spot with loaded questions.

        Valerie – you make an outstanding point in regards to really investing into the person you are interviewing with (or meeting in this case). At best, it shows that you are prepared, that you have done your research, and that you are genuinely interested in them. At worst, people love to talk about themselves and their accomplishments – so let them, ask them how they’ve done what they’ve done and do something that many people forget to do…LISTEN.

  • Valerie M Reply

    I really hate how people see interviews as highly structured and that you must follow a script. I think that its most important to go out there and be your best self (which isn’t structured IMO). People notice that and they like it because it shows you are likeable. So I would suggest doing something that puts you in a positive mindset before you go.

    I also cannot stress enough how much being interested in the person works, whether you’re at an interview, a meeting, or anywhere. After all under the surface the other person is like you in many ways. The easiest way to do that is to assume rapport and you don’t have to be an extrovert to pull that off. I’m as introverted as it gets and doing that really works for me.

    Great post, Matt!

    • Trace Cohen Reply

      I think hate is a strong word as there are so many different companies out there that do do it in a very structured manor. While I personally hate “structure” myself there is some form of regime to go through for every interview.

      It’s the combination of the structure and being yourself that is the hard part for most people. The blend of how to answer loaded questions with some hint to your personal brand and why your the right person for the job.

      • Matt Cheuvront Reply

        Valerie and Trace – Ideally, we want to have the opportunity to really be ourselves during an interview – I pride myself on not ‘selling out’ and staying true to myself – but as Trace pointed out, it is no easy task to maintain a sense of comfort when being put on the spot with loaded questions.

        Valerie – you make an outstanding point in regards to really investing into the person you are interviewing with (or meeting in this case). At best, it shows that you are prepared, that you have done your research, and that you are genuinely interested in them. At worst, people love to talk about themselves and their accomplishments – so let them, ask them how they’ve done what they’ve done and do something that many people forget to do…LISTEN.

  • Carlos Miceli Reply

    Interesting approach Matt, certainly a do able one with our current online tools.
    You have nothing to lose, except for some time, but come on, a cup of coffee with a potential help beats going through your reader everytime.
    The only thing that I’d add is that I see many people not wanting to meet a “stranger” soon. So, I’d put a lot of effort in the online relationship before taking it offline, especially if the other person has any reason to think that you’re doing this for a job instead of genuine interest.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Agree for the most part Carlos – it’s always wise to build up a rapport and take time in your approach. Randomly calling up strangers for coffee is not effective and not the direction I was taking this – rather – it’s for those who have been investigating a company for some time, may know a couple people who work their, but can’t seem to get in for an interview. Is it guaranteed that an informal meeting will lead to anything more? Not at all. But when that time does com around to start hiring, they’ll remember how you went out of your way to get your foot in the door back in the day.

  • Carlos Miceli Reply

    Interesting approach Matt, certainly a do able one with our current online tools.
    You have nothing to lose, except for some time, but come on, a cup of coffee with a potential help beats going through your reader everytime.
    The only thing that I’d add is that I see many people not wanting to meet a “stranger” soon. So, I’d put a lot of effort in the online relationship before taking it offline, especially if the other person has any reason to think that you’re doing this for a job instead of genuine interest.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Agree for the most part Carlos – it’s always wise to build up a rapport and take time in your approach. Randomly calling up strangers for coffee is not effective and not the direction I was taking this – rather – it’s for those who have been investigating a company for some time, may know a couple people who work their, but can’t seem to get in for an interview. Is it guaranteed that an informal meeting will lead to anything more? Not at all. But when that time does com around to start hiring, they’ll remember how you went out of your way to get your foot in the door back in the day.

  • Elisa Reply

    First off, this is a jewel of knowledget that doesn’t apply JUST to meeting up with someone for a business meeting: “Coming across as an afternoon alcoholic is never the first impression you want to make.” If you do happen to make it to an interview with a company there’s nothing to say that they guy/girl across the desk didn’t see you last Friday night laying on the bar at Ruby Tuesday’s doing body shots. Ok, that particular scenario might be a bit extreme, but things DO happen.

    Which brings me to the point of why I LOVE the idea of setting up a meeting with people you admire/influencers in your field/etc. You may, in fact, never interview or be considered for a position at their particular company. But in many industries and cities people know people. And when Joe is looking for a good fit for his company’s new media department, Jen might tell him about this person she grabbed coffee with a couple weeks ago that would be perfect for the job.

    You never know where your opportunities are coming from, and the more of them you open up the more (decent) exposure you have and the new connections/contacts/friends you may get out of the experience!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Body shots at Ruby Tuesday’s? Now I’ve heard it all – I would not picture Ruby Tuesday as the place to be going wild on a Friday night – maybe I grew up in the wrong city! :)

      Your point is spot on: People know people. Even if there’s nothing at their business, the person your meeting is probably someone with some reach and influence (otherwise how did YOU find them in the first place). Use that to your advantage – keep your eyes open to any and all opportunities and even if it doesn’t pay off right away, even if you come across as annoying to a countless number of people, all it takes is that one person to have a little faith in you to bring you on or at least recommend you to someone else – and that’s what its all about – getting in the ‘circle of trust’.

  • Elisa Reply

    First off, this is a jewel of knowledget that doesn’t apply JUST to meeting up with someone for a business meeting: “Coming across as an afternoon alcoholic is never the first impression you want to make.” If you do happen to make it to an interview with a company there’s nothing to say that they guy/girl across the desk didn’t see you last Friday night laying on the bar at Ruby Tuesday’s doing body shots. Ok, that particular scenario might be a bit extreme, but things DO happen.

    Which brings me to the point of why I LOVE the idea of setting up a meeting with people you admire/influencers in your field/etc. You may, in fact, never interview or be considered for a position at their particular company. But in many industries and cities people know people. And when Joe is looking for a good fit for his company’s new media department, Jen might tell him about this person she grabbed coffee with a couple weeks ago that would be perfect for the job.

    You never know where your opportunities are coming from, and the more of them you open up the more (decent) exposure you have and the new connections/contacts/friends you may get out of the experience!

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Body shots at Ruby Tuesday’s? Now I’ve heard it all – I would not picture Ruby Tuesday as the place to be going wild on a Friday night – maybe I grew up in the wrong city! :)

      Your point is spot on: People know people. Even if there’s nothing at their business, the person your meeting is probably someone with some reach and influence (otherwise how did YOU find them in the first place). Use that to your advantage – keep your eyes open to any and all opportunities and even if it doesn’t pay off right away, even if you come across as annoying to a countless number of people, all it takes is that one person to have a little faith in you to bring you on or at least recommend you to someone else – and that’s what its all about – getting in the ‘circle of trust’.

  • Ryan Stephens Reply

    I’ll echo the sentiments of the others here and state from experience that this is a good technique to employ. Knowing people counts, being a genuine person goes a long way, and getting an interview isn’t easy, but having a more informal conversation where you can showcase your personality and business acumen is a great way to ensure that person will think about you again when something comes up.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I honestly believe that once if I am ever responsible for hiring within my own company that this approach is what I would implement. I think you can learn much more about a person when you level the playing field and have a meeting on neutral, comfortable ground. Perhaps there is something to be said for monitoring how a candidate cracks under the interview interrogations – but I’d rather see how they act – you know – in ‘real’ life.

      I’d be interested to hear from some HR folks or entrepreneurs who have hired employees in these type of settings – if you fit the bill and are reading this – take a few minutes and share your perspective!

  • Ryan Stephens Reply

    I’ll echo the sentiments of the others here and state from experience that this is a good technique to employ. Knowing people counts, being a genuine person goes a long way, and getting an interview isn’t easy, but having a more informal conversation where you can showcase your personality and business acumen is a great way to ensure that person will think about you again when something comes up.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I honestly believe that once if I am ever responsible for hiring within my own company that this approach is what I would implement. I think you can learn much more about a person when you level the playing field and have a meeting on neutral, comfortable ground. Perhaps there is something to be said for monitoring how a candidate cracks under the interview interrogations – but I’d rather see how they act – you know – in ‘real’ life.

      I’d be interested to hear from some HR folks or entrepreneurs who have hired employees in these type of settings – if you fit the bill and are reading this – take a few minutes and share your perspective!

  • Dawn McKenzie Reply

    Great post! Although everyone seems to understand that landing a job often comes down to “who you know” not “what you know,” it appears that people can’t be reminded often enough! You nail it on the head by emphasizing that yes, social media and engagement online is important, but you still need to take that relationship face to face and meet people informally as well! It isn’t so much that you have to know the hiring manager or even someone who works for the company you are pursuing, but that you have a large and strong enough network to help get you to where you want to be. Whether it be that job you want, the person you’d love to learn from, the new business prospect or someone you’d simply like to get to know better! I love your point that although you might not have an interview, you can still create opportunity for yourself. Build relationships when you don’t necessarily need them, and when you do, they will be there to help. Help others when they need help. As Elisa mentioned, people know people and you never know what kind of hook up they can potentially gift you.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Hi Dawn – thanks for the excellent thoughts – glad to have you as part of the community here – welcome!

      Two clear points: One – NOTHING beats a face to face meeting – something that social media will never fully replace. Two – As you said, networking and building your professional approach must be done proactively. Don’t wait until you are desperate a job to start setting up interviews – continue to engage people and establish relationships across the board so when you DO need them, you’ll have them at your disposal.

  • Dawn McKenzie Reply

    Great post! Although everyone seems to understand that landing a job often comes down to “who you know” not “what you know,” it appears that people can’t be reminded often enough! You nail it on the head by emphasizing that yes, social media and engagement online is important, but you still need to take that relationship face to face and meet people informally as well! It isn’t so much that you have to know the hiring manager or even someone who works for the company you are pursuing, but that you have a large and strong enough network to help get you to where you want to be. Whether it be that job you want, the person you’d love to learn from, the new business prospect or someone you’d simply like to get to know better! I love your point that although you might not have an interview, you can still create opportunity for yourself. Build relationships when you don’t necessarily need them, and when you do, they will be there to help. Help others when they need help. As Elisa mentioned, people know people and you never know what kind of hook up they can potentially gift you.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Hi Dawn – thanks for the excellent thoughts – glad to have you as part of the community here – welcome!

      Two clear points: One – NOTHING beats a face to face meeting – something that social media will never fully replace. Two – As you said, networking and building your professional approach must be done proactively. Don’t wait until you are desperate a job to start setting up interviews – continue to engage people and establish relationships across the board so when you DO need them, you’ll have them at your disposal.

  • Jun Loayza Reply

    You know, I taught a similar philosophy to undergraduates when my team started FD Edge a year and a half ago. We taught students how to interview for behavioral and case interviews and also revised their resumes.

    I would always focus on the intangibles: body language, pitch of your voice, eye contact, talking speed; I told our students that 70% of what you say doesn’t come from out of your mouth.

    We also focused on networking outside of the career fairs and company info sessions. Our students actually contacted directors of the Big Four companies introducing themselves and saying that they’re going into an interview. This proved to be very successful becomes there were some students who actually interviewed with the director that they emailed! Great way to break the ice.

    I have not found it easy to ask out a manager of a company to coffee if he or she works at a large firm. Unless you have developed a close relationship with someone on the inside, an investment banker of management consultant does not have time for you.

    Then again, I think this just applies to banks and consultants. I’m sure smaller firms would be more than willing to catch some coffee.

    - Jun Loayza

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Very interesting thoughts here – and you’re right – this isn’t the wisdom for someone who is neccesarily looking at working for a Fortune 500 company. You have to plan your informal meetings wisely – and for the most part, we can imagine when someone is too busy for this kind of stuff. But for those people who are willing to meet informally, the entrepreneurs and small business owners – breaking away for an hour is usually very possible and much appreciated.

      Side note: I do very much believe in the 70% (if not more) of what you say isn’t actually said – attitude and body language goes a long, long way in being memorable to your own of us. Thanks for the comment Jun!

  • Jun Loayza Reply

    You know, I taught a similar philosophy to undergraduates when my team started FD Edge a year and a half ago. We taught students how to interview for behavioral and case interviews and also revised their resumes.

    I would always focus on the intangibles: body language, pitch of your voice, eye contact, talking speed; I told our students that 70% of what you say doesn’t come from out of your mouth.

    We also focused on networking outside of the career fairs and company info sessions. Our students actually contacted directors of the Big Four companies introducing themselves and saying that they’re going into an interview. This proved to be very successful becomes there were some students who actually interviewed with the director that they emailed! Great way to break the ice.

    I have not found it easy to ask out a manager of a company to coffee if he or she works at a large firm. Unless you have developed a close relationship with someone on the inside, an investment banker of management consultant does not have time for you.

    Then again, I think this just applies to banks and consultants. I’m sure smaller firms would be more than willing to catch some coffee.

    - Jun Loayza

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Very interesting thoughts here – and you’re right – this isn’t the wisdom for someone who is neccesarily looking at working for a Fortune 500 company. You have to plan your informal meetings wisely – and for the most part, we can imagine when someone is too busy for this kind of stuff. But for those people who are willing to meet informally, the entrepreneurs and small business owners – breaking away for an hour is usually very possible and much appreciated.

      Side note: I do very much believe in the 70% (if not more) of what you say isn’t actually said – attitude and body language goes a long, long way in being memorable to your own of us. Thanks for the comment Jun!

  • Grace Boyle Reply

    Matt this is a great post and very true. I had less interviews and many more informal coffee dates when I moved to Boulder and I owe my very job today, to an informal meeting.

    Sometimes it’s nice to learn that this VP shares a hometown with you, enjoys the same drink, shares a common interest, etc. This often leverages a personalization that encourages them to want to pass you along to their friends or recommend you for a job. We’re all human and largely, enjoy doing the same things. We’re not guided by mechanical hard work so often times if someone even wants to meet with me, I suggest happy hour or coffee across the street from our office. I know it will relax them (it relaxes me) and I can get to really know them.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I’m glad that someone can speak from direct experience here – being hired through an ‘informal meeting’ like this. Any way you slice it, even the people responsible for hiring you are human – most of the time they put you through a grueling interview to test your will, or because it’s a process that has been ingrained into the business that they don’t want to change. I really think there is a lot to be said for leveling the playing field and meeting on neutral ground.

  • Grace Boyle Reply

    Matt this is a great post and very true. I had less interviews and many more informal coffee dates when I moved to Boulder and I owe my very job today, to an informal meeting.

    Sometimes it’s nice to learn that this VP shares a hometown with you, enjoys the same drink, shares a common interest, etc. This often leverages a personalization that encourages them to want to pass you along to their friends or recommend you for a job. We’re all human and largely, enjoy doing the same things. We’re not guided by mechanical hard work so often times if someone even wants to meet with me, I suggest happy hour or coffee across the street from our office. I know it will relax them (it relaxes me) and I can get to really know them.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I’m glad that someone can speak from direct experience here – being hired through an ‘informal meeting’ like this. Any way you slice it, even the people responsible for hiring you are human – most of the time they put you through a grueling interview to test your will, or because it’s a process that has been ingrained into the business that they don’t want to change. I really think there is a lot to be said for leveling the playing field and meeting on neutral ground.

  • Stuart Foster Reply

    My advice? Just don’t kill yourself for getting these meetings…especially if it is about an employment opportunity. The reason? Your time is valuable. Don’t waste it on maybes and vague premises. Set out clear objectives (and communicate them) with the other party before hand.

    You don’t want to blind side someone with this stuff.

    Oh. And I’m determined to NEVER go through another job interview process. Think the barriers for entry are complete bullshit on a lot of levels (and a lot of key skills are ignored).

    Yes, I’m still bitter with the HR profession.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I think we can all feel your pain of the HR process and I think I can speak for all of us when I say it would be a joy to never have to go through the formal interview process again.

      I agree with your advice of setting clear objectives – I think that is key – but if you’re laying out “Hey, I want to meet with you to talk about a job” – you’re pretty much asking for an interview. Instead – come up with clear objectives and things you want to learn and take-away – then arrange an ‘informational meeting’ and let the other party know exactly what you’d like to talk about ahead of time. Set goals before investing the time – and if you don’t think they’ll be met, don’t waste your time.

  • Stuart Foster Reply

    My advice? Just don’t kill yourself for getting these meetings…especially if it is about an employment opportunity. The reason? Your time is valuable. Don’t waste it on maybes and vague premises. Set out clear objectives (and communicate them) with the other party before hand.

    You don’t want to blind side someone with this stuff.

    Oh. And I’m determined to NEVER go through another job interview process. Think the barriers for entry are complete bullshit on a lot of levels (and a lot of key skills are ignored).

    Yes, I’m still bitter with the HR profession.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I think we can all feel your pain of the HR process and I think I can speak for all of us when I say it would be a joy to never have to go through the formal interview process again.

      I agree with your advice of setting clear objectives – I think that is key – but if you’re laying out “Hey, I want to meet with you to talk about a job” – you’re pretty much asking for an interview. Instead – come up with clear objectives and things you want to learn and take-away – then arrange an ‘informational meeting’ and let the other party know exactly what you’d like to talk about ahead of time. Set goals before investing the time – and if you don’t think they’ll be met, don’t waste your time.

  • Alex Reply

    Good advice, Matt. It hold true for entrepreneurs looking to “interview” for projects/clients they’re trying to sell to also!

    Thanks again for adding your blog to YPBLOGS.com.

  • Alex Reply

    Good advice, Matt. It hold true for entrepreneurs looking to “interview” for projects/clients they’re trying to sell to also!

    Thanks again for adding your blog to YPBLOGS.com.

  • Hanna Balla Reply

    Face-to-face meetings seem to be pushed to the back of a lot of folks’ minds now that we have these social media tools where interaction is just a few clicks away. Regardless of how simple it is to communicate, you’re absolutely right. It’s imperative that we get ourselves out there and interact with people in real life and give them some dimension as to who we are. It’s a complete different experience interacting with someone through a screen and meeting them in person to see their body language, hear their voice, etc. It brings them to life. So that person who may not have remembered us because we’re another blimp on their social media screen, may remember us and go that extra step to help out (and vice versa) once we become more “real” through face-to-face interaction.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      So true Hanna. We can pretend to be these extremely social and outgoing people online – but what are we like in real life. I’ve been to several ‘social media’ events that have been so awkward – a group of people all starting down at their Blackberry’s and IPhones tweeting instead of talking. It’s funny how we open up so much behind the computer screen – letting go of that security blanket and actually communicating off the web is imperative for anyone trying to find a job, establish a network, or hell, even make friends!

  • Hanna Balla Reply

    Face-to-face meetings seem to be pushed to the back of a lot of folks’ minds now that we have these social media tools where interaction is just a few clicks away. Regardless of how simple it is to communicate, you’re absolutely right. It’s imperative that we get ourselves out there and interact with people in real life and give them some dimension as to who we are. It’s a complete different experience interacting with someone through a screen and meeting them in person to see their body language, hear their voice, etc. It brings them to life. So that person who may not have remembered us because we’re another blimp on their social media screen, may remember us and go that extra step to help out (and vice versa) once we become more “real” through face-to-face interaction.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      So true Hanna. We can pretend to be these extremely social and outgoing people online – but what are we like in real life. I’ve been to several ‘social media’ events that have been so awkward – a group of people all starting down at their Blackberry’s and IPhones tweeting instead of talking. It’s funny how we open up so much behind the computer screen – letting go of that security blanket and actually communicating off the web is imperative for anyone trying to find a job, establish a network, or hell, even make friends!

  • Sam Reply

    I like this approach, Matt. It’s great advice! Your analogy comparing an interview to a show is spot on. I think the reason people dread interviews so much is because it’s so hard to present the best version of yourself while you’re worrying about sticking to the script. I wonder why more companies don’t step outside the box and opt for a less formal, and therefore less stilted interview. They’d certainly get to know the prospective employee a lot better, and they’d probably get a better read of how the person would fit in with the corporate culture because they’d be less nervous.

    My interview for my current job was a perfect example. I was so nervous beforehand, running through my rehearsed answers in my head, but as soon as I stepped into the conference room and began talking with my now boss, all worries evaporated. Instead of grilling me and asking me difficult questions to see how I’d respond, he talked to me like a person. We actually had a conversation! And, ready for this one? That conversation included a discussion of football! What? At a job interview? Seriously though, by finding out about my love of football, my boss saw that we had something in common, and was able to witness what I’m like when I’m passionate about something.

    Long story short, I think the informal meeting is a great way to break the ice and show a potential employer that you’re an actual person, and not just a scripted answer spewing machine.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I think your story illustrates a good point Sam. You don’t necessarily have to schedule a coffee shop visit for a meet-up. An interview or meeting CAN be conducted in a casual format regardless of the setting – and honestly, I think those interviews that are run like a conversation are much more effective and give both parties a clear perspective into what one another is like and how the personalities mesh. If I never have to go through the drab interview ringer ever again I will die a happy man.

  • Sam Reply

    I like this approach, Matt. It’s great advice! Your analogy comparing an interview to a show is spot on. I think the reason people dread interviews so much is because it’s so hard to present the best version of yourself while you’re worrying about sticking to the script. I wonder why more companies don’t step outside the box and opt for a less formal, and therefore less stilted interview. They’d certainly get to know the prospective employee a lot better, and they’d probably get a better read of how the person would fit in with the corporate culture because they’d be less nervous.

    My interview for my current job was a perfect example. I was so nervous beforehand, running through my rehearsed answers in my head, but as soon as I stepped into the conference room and began talking with my now boss, all worries evaporated. Instead of grilling me and asking me difficult questions to see how I’d respond, he talked to me like a person. We actually had a conversation! And, ready for this one? That conversation included a discussion of football! What? At a job interview? Seriously though, by finding out about my love of football, my boss saw that we had something in common, and was able to witness what I’m like when I’m passionate about something.

    Long story short, I think the informal meeting is a great way to break the ice and show a potential employer that you’re an actual person, and not just a scripted answer spewing machine.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I think your story illustrates a good point Sam. You don’t necessarily have to schedule a coffee shop visit for a meet-up. An interview or meeting CAN be conducted in a casual format regardless of the setting – and honestly, I think those interviews that are run like a conversation are much more effective and give both parties a clear perspective into what one another is like and how the personalities mesh. If I never have to go through the drab interview ringer ever again I will die a happy man.

  • Cameron Plommer Reply

    I loved your post/advice so much that I just emailed two people to hopefully meet with. I have been tempted in the past to set up informational interviews but your post was the tipping point for me. As a soon to be graduate I really need to expand my network and I see this as a way of doing so plus learning about certain career paths at the same time. Thanks Matt.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Cameron – that is GREAT to hear. Knowing that I inspired a call to action amongst my readers is the most rewarding thing I could ask for – it’s ‘why I do what I do’. Set up as many meetings as you can – anyone that will take the time to meet with you – take them up on it – you will learn so much if not about the company, then about yourself. Cheers!

  • Cameron Plommer Reply

    I loved your post/advice so much that I just emailed two people to hopefully meet with. I have been tempted in the past to set up informational interviews but your post was the tipping point for me. As a soon to be graduate I really need to expand my network and I see this as a way of doing so plus learning about certain career paths at the same time. Thanks Matt.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Cameron – that is GREAT to hear. Knowing that I inspired a call to action amongst my readers is the most rewarding thing I could ask for – it’s ‘why I do what I do’. Set up as many meetings as you can – anyone that will take the time to meet with you – take them up on it – you will learn so much if not about the company, then about yourself. Cheers!

  • Edward - Entry Level Dilemma Reply

    Matt,

    You just stole my topic for next week’s post at Entry Level Dilemma. But you gave a shout-out to my hometown’s brewery, so it’s okay.

    Meeting someone without asking for a job so one of the most powerful and underused tools in a job searcher’s arsenal. Thanks for helping spread awareness of it.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Considering I wrote this 5 months ago, I’d say you stole it from me :)

      Agreed that this is a very powerful “tool” for job seekers. Look forward to reading your post.

      • Edward - Entry Level Dilemma Reply

        So you did. My bad. I guess this means I can’t claim I’ve delved deeply into the archives of Life Without Pants! Maybe you you used the “tachyon accelerator” created by Will Farrell’s character in Land of the Lost to go back in time and steal my idea. :)

  • Edward - Entry Level Dilemma Reply

    Matt,

    You just stole my topic for next week’s post at Entry Level Dilemma. But you gave a shout-out to my hometown’s brewery, so it’s okay.

    Meeting someone without asking for a job so one of the most powerful and underused tools in a job searcher’s arsenal. Thanks for helping spread awareness of it.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Considering I wrote this 5 months ago, I’d say you stole it from me :)

      Agreed that this is a very powerful “tool” for job seekers. Look forward to reading your post.

      • Edward - Entry Level Dilemma Reply

        So you did. My bad. I guess this means I can’t claim I’ve delved deeply into the archives of Life Without Pants! Maybe you you used the “tachyon accelerator” created by Will Farrell’s character in Land of the Lost to go back in time and steal my idea. :)

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