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When meeting someone for coffee for an informational interview. What are some good questions to ask?

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This! It’s a great approach to softly meeting someone without all the “here’s my resume, help me!” Someone reaches out to me in February saying they’d be in town for SXSW, asked me for coffee to to talk about my companies culture, interested in the brand. Asked me to check out his insta (which was very brand focused). I was weary, but he was doing all the work so why not? He was a very smart, not pushy, personable and junior guy just looking for some advice. Didn’t ask me for anything! We connected on LinkedIn, he thanked me, that’s that. Well a junior position opened up and I’m the hiring manager. Low and behold, day 2, there’s his resume. He didn’t even tell me he was applying, didn’t “use” me at all. Anyways, he’s in phone interview land now and it’s up to him to earn the spot. Honestly, I wish I did more of what he did. Soft network. Helps that he’s an actual solid candidate

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Yes I did this 20 times while looking for my first job (traveled to NYC from DC), and it was very helpful. Did the same when moved to LA and SF I also say Yes now when anyone calls me the same way. I’ve met with many young people over the past 25 years. My only complaint is at the end when I say: keep in touch so I know how it goes for you. Most don’t follow thru.

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Yes I would say to ask questions about their journey in the industry, best practices for someone who wants to break in, and try to gently work in some of your background so maybe he thinks of you the next time there’s an opening at your level

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Be sure to pay. I’ve had several of these informational interviews done as a favor for a friend. Only one paid. As for questions, always ask how they ended up in their position? What was their path. What would they advise for someone who wants to break into BLANk. People LOVE to talk about themselves and most likely will make intros for you.

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There’s a book called The Actor Takes a Meeting (Stephen Book) where he talks about the importance of not wanting a job from this person. If you enter that way, or unprepared, you are forcing the other person to take care of you. If you walk in with your info agenda, then it’s Your meeting and you are taking care of them. They will feel the difference, and it will make a difference. Don’t suck up to them because they are senior - another thing that puts the care taking on the other person. Anyone who says Yes to your offer will be interested to meet you. Enjoy the moment!

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Can you provide more context about the meeting - who is it with, what kind of company, etc

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Of course, Just as student/ internship seeking individual meeting with a let’s say a experience design lead because that’s what they are aspiring to be.

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Ask specific questions. Don’t ask for a job or complain about not having a job. At the end, ask for more contacts and other people you can grab coffee with.

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Where is the line though? Some people say to use your network to connect about jobs, other say meet in person. i can’t get someone to just get coffee with me. People don’t want to go out of their way to help others in my experience.

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Not true. Not everyone is willing to help, sure. But some are. But some are, and all you need is some. If you get 3 coffees from 100 emails, that’s worth it. And once you meet with someone helpful, if they do an email intro to someone they know, you’re on your way. That next person is more likely to follow through. Gotta believe!

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It’s more like a first date and less like an interview. Getting to know them, how’d you get here, interesting life experiences, why they wanted to do this, what inspires them, how they keep feeding their creativity and/or passion... and pick up the check.

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