When reaching out to contacts for potential informational interviews, you should do everything in your power to set a face-to-face meeting instead of a phone call. An informational interview with the right person can be one of the biggest boosts to your job search, but only if you can make a good impression. And that’s hard to do on a phone call. Think about it: Would you hire someone based off of a phone interview? Probably not. Your goal for an informational interview is to lock down a contact that could potentially put you up for jobs at some point, but it’s unlikely that anyone is going to go to bat for a person they’ve never even seen. Especially when dealing with higher level executives, you need to keep in mind that they’re on the phone with various people all day long, and without being able to put a face to a name, they’re not going to remember you for more than a day or two. Unless you’re speaking with someone in a different state, find a way to get that in-person meeting.
But aren't you supposed to let your contact dictate the terms of the meeting so they aren't inconvenienced — and isn’t it an inconvenience to ask for a face-to-face meeting? The answer is no. When requesting an informational interview, simply ask for a meeting and let the other person select the location and time. Don’t suggest a call as an option. If that’s what they end up coming back with, tough luck, but more likely, they’ll find a window to fit you in at some point, even if it's several weeks out. Expect that you’ll probably be rescheduled a few times, and that’s perfectly fine. Take what you can get — even a 15 minute face-to-face meeting is better than a phone call when trying to make a lasting impression.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan