Business card trading deficit?
July 19, 2010 9:45 PM   Subscribe

What is the etiquette regarding business card exchanges during an interview? When I have gone on interviews in the past, the various people who have interviewed me have given me their business cards. I am never sure whether to give the interviewer one of my business cards in exchange.

What is the etiquette in this situation? Is it silly to hand the person my business card considering he/she already knows my contact information?

In case it's important, I'm applying for professional/technical positions and am currently employed at a non-profit.
posted by parakeetdog to Work & Money (12 answers total)
Is it silly to hand the person my business card considering he/she already knows my contact information?

posted by Jaltcoh at 9:49 PM on July 19, 2010

Nope, no card from you to the interviewer. They have your resume, which presumably has your contact information at the top.

The interviewer is giving you their card because otherwise you wouldn't have their contact information ... typically it's handed to the interviewee during the "if you have any further questions..." stand-up-and-handshake part of the interview.

I've noticed that quite a few people seem to paperclip business cards to their cover letters + resumes when sending them in on paper, which I don't really get either. It seems redundant, and as soon as it gets unpaperclipped almost guaranteed to get lost. Doesn't seem worthwhile to me.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:13 PM on July 19, 2010

They don't need your card - they clearly have your contact info, since you got the interview. I'm not sure why you'd need theirs either... unless you might forget how to get there again or didn't write down the phone number.
posted by blaneyphoto at 10:21 PM on July 19, 2010

You're looking for a new job, so even if you do have a card (which you wouldn't, if you're not currently employed), the info on it will soon be out of date. They wouldn't want it. The information they do want, your current personal contact information, they already have, and would not be on your business card anyway.
posted by kindall at 10:24 PM on July 19, 2010

They don't need yours. You don't really need theirs either, it's more of a demand for a thank-you email than anything else.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:26 PM on July 19, 2010

Best answer: This depends on the work culture. In this sort of situation, I always ask if they'd like my card. Sometimes I'll make a joke about it, if they say it's unnecessary. I picked up this habit in Korea, where it's impolite not to reciprocate. Asking helps avoid any unpleasantness and a joke dispels any awkwardness.
posted by smorange at 10:45 PM on July 19, 2010

You don't really need theirs either, it's more of a demand for a thank-you email than anything else.

Erm, it's a courtesy by them to you, so that you don't have to try to figure out how to spell their last name or get their address wrong when you send thank-you notes.
posted by desuetude at 10:47 PM on July 19, 2010

Best answer: I think you absolutely should give the interviewer your business card. Even though presumably both parties know each other's contact information, it's one more possible way for the interviewer to remember you. It's not a practicality thing, it's one more chance to separate you from the rest of the interviewees. The worst thing that can happen is the interviewers simply throw your resume and business card in the trash and decide not to hire you; the fact that they have your card can't be a negative factor.

I'm surprised that your interviewers are giving you their own business cards; when I was interviewing people, the last thing I wanted when the interview was long over (and I had already decided on that person's fate) and I was hard at work was to get a bunch of emails from the interviewee thanking me, pointing out how ready they were to start working, and long, drawn out answers to the questions they had failed to answer in the in person interview. So I never gave out my business cards. Different cultures, I suppose.
posted by meowzilla at 11:08 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've been in a situation in which the interviewer asked me for a business card. I don't know if it was a test of some kind or not but I didn't give him one and I told him that I am not there representing my current company (on the contrary - trying to leave it) so it would be innappropriate for me to use one.

I got the job.

posted by Parsnip at 11:54 PM on July 19, 2010

Admittedly I'm based in the UK and have never gone to an interview with business cards, never received any and never been expected to give any out.

However if that situation came up in the future, then I'd respond as Parsnip recommended.

(What I do do however, is give the interviewer a fresh copy of my CV/résumé if the job was through an agency because I've often found that they've mangled the presentation in an effort to, presumably, obscure the contact details.)
posted by mr_silver at 1:55 AM on July 20, 2010

They give you a business card because you might not have their contact info otherwise. Likewise, you probably give them a fresh copy of your resume at the beginning of the interview in case they have misplaced your contact information.
posted by jander03 at 8:15 AM on July 20, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for your input! I've never known whether to reciprocate or not in this situation. I will take business cards just in case, but won't give them out unless I get the sense that they want one.

If it was up to me, I would not want to receive a business card or give one out. When I get a business card during an interview, I feel obligated to write a dreaded "thank you" letter. One thank you letter to the hiring manager is all I can tolerate.
posted by parakeetdog at 12:25 PM on July 20, 2010

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