Was this supposed to be a job interview?

Was this supposed to be a job interview?

Was this supposed to be a job interview?

One common thing I hear about is a networking conversation turning into something that sorta feels like a job interview. Let’s go over what the different situations are.

Situation 1: You don’t know the person that well, and the original topic was networking

They seem to be asking you a lot of details about your qualifications. Their company would be a good fit for you, but they haven’t explicitly stated that they’re interviewing you for their company. What should you do?


  • Be professional, not casual

  • Practice your pitch! Why are you a good candidate? Why should companies choose you?

  • Ask questions. Try to keep the questions broad and industry-focused, instead of specific to the person’s company.

  • Strategically mention your interest in their company by saying something like “Wow, working at your company would be a great opportunity for a new grad like myself because I’ll get to learn and grow a lot.”

  • Send a thank you follow-up


  • Explicitly ask them to hire/interview you unless they ask first.

  • Sound like you’re not sure what you want, even if you’re not sure. Being honest about your uncertainty should be restricted to people you know and trust, not people you’re networking with.

Opportunities like these do become job offers, but you shouldn’t enter them like they will be job offers. Consider them to be very realistic practice runs!

Situation 2: You know the person well, but they’re not actively hiring

This person knows you’re on the job market, but they’re not actively hiring. They know you well and have expressed interest in hiring you before. Is this a job interview?


  • Be yourself! This person already likes you and believes in you. There’s no need to be extra formal.

  • Give them an update on what you’re up to if it’s been some time. Tell them about the latest things that interest you, how the job search is going, etc.

  • Ask them for help. Whether it’s an introduction to someone in their network or general advice, you can trust this person.


  • Ask them for a job. If they know you and have already told you they are not hiring, don’t ask them for a job. If they offer, that’s great! But don’t assume otherwise.

  • Wait for them to offer you a job. By this, I mean don’t bank on them to start hiring in the near future. Even if this place is your dream job, you should go find a different opportunity. If this place is meant to be, you’ll get a call down the road.

Sometimes this person will make a space for you at their company because they really believe in you. Other times, it’s just not in the cards. Don’t take it personally. They’re still a great person to have as a resource and connection.

Situation 3: You met someone in a casual setting who is in your ideal career/field

The context is not networking, but you’ve met someone who is doing exactly what you want. How do you navigate this conversation?


  • Be genuinely curious about their story. Ask them how they got there, what they do, and why.

  • Talk about yourself in a personal way, not just professionally. This context isn’t business, so treat it casually.

  • Ask them if you can follow up. If they seem open to talking to you, get their email or number. Add them on LinkedIn.


  • Ask them for a job. The context isn’t professional, and this will close the door on any conversation.

  • Force the conversation to be work-related. This isn’t a networking event. Some people don’t want to talk about jobs outside of their job.

These types of serendipitous meetings can be great connections, but don’t count on them. Play it cool!

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