I’ve had a few job interviews with a company, and the last one is coming soon. During the interviews, I was interviewed by an HR manager, among others.

Yesterday, via her private e-mail address, she offered me a practice/advice session for the coming interview. This would take place in the evening, outside any professional setting.

This is highly uncommon, and obviously blurs personal/professional boundaries. I feel very uneasy about it. On the other hand, she is a high-rank manager and her so-called ‘practice session’ as well as her advice, would be extremely profitable without a doubt. What is the most professional way to handle the situation?

  • 5
    Maybe she spotted some glaring mistakes in your interview style and wants to give you some feedback. Or maybe, she's sexually interested in you. I assume that you're NOT interested in her. Is that correct? If so, pick a coffee shop or a tea shop as the venue. Just in case, prepare some ready-made excuses if she tries to make a pass at you. But don't even let it get that far. In fact, when suggesting to meet for coffee, you could tell her: "To make sure we keep things professional, let's meet at this coffee shop. " or "To make sure we keep this professional, let's invite so-and-so along." Commented May 26, 2017 at 6:00
  • 1
    If she tries to make a pass at me I won't use some ready-made excuses though, I’ll just flee from the venue and start looking for another company
    – coco
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 6:14
  • @StephanBranczyk I respectfully disagree. You can't keep something professional that is so blatantly unprofessional.
    – Thern
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 9:05
  • 3
    I thought the title was that the HR manager proposed during the interview. A little disappointing. Commented May 26, 2017 at 11:25
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    My speculation is some peers of HR manager prefer another candidate but HR manager prefer your candidature. So she will try to coach you offsite to get the job because she estimate you are a better fit for the company good. So you may have two information: - there is a better candidate than you - HR do not think you will get the job without sharing information to you
    – Tom Sawyer
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 22:25

2 Answers 2


As you already pointed out, this blurs the personal/professional border and is highly unprofessional. Moreover, it is absolutely not clear if such a practice session would really be extremely profitable or even profitable at all. Just a few thoughts:

  • It might be that the HR manager is motivated by romantic or sexual interests, leading to an awkward situation, and if you reject her, it might lead to her sabotaging your interview.
  • It might be an uncommon test to check your integrity; if you do not decline the offer, you might be turned down for questionable integrity.
  • It might be some kind of sabotage; you do not know if you get bad advice to disrupt the hiring process because of personal dislike between HR manager and the manager responsible for the position where you would be working.

And even if it works out, you might be in a situation where this manager sees you as owing her for getting the job and urging you to do other questionable/unprofessional things later on in return for the favor.

Thus, my clear advice is: Decline the offer politely.

Not only for reasons of professionality, but also in your own best interest.

  • I would indeed suggest not to accept the offer of the private interview. If this is mentioned about this during the last interview, mention that you did not find this appropriate or professional. This way you can make clear why you did not accept. If nothing is mentioned and you are not accepte,d you can always mention it yourself
    – Houbie
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 11:05

I am sorry, but my answer is stereotyped:

  • You are a male and the HR person is a female: accept
  • You are a male and the HR person is a male: accept
  • You are a female and the HR person is a female: accept
  • You are a female and the HR person is a male: decline -- heard too many bad stories about how guys manage relation in a office.

I see it as you have more gain than lost in this situation. Also, high rank people usually give good advice to advance your career. This opportunity can help you not only for the current process but all your next one.

One of my past experience was a female teacher invited me to a coffee shop. Her goal was to help me to get prepared for the final mandatory government language exam. I had already fail the language course once before.

So I went to grab a beer with her. She had brought my class exam that I failed, not the government. As @Stephan Branczyk mentionned, she had spotted gigantic mistakes that would make me fail the government exam. She gave me back my failed exam, explained some strategies and instructed me to play it safe on the exam. Then she told me to do again the same class exam at home and give it back to her. I did it again and I got a very good grade that make me pass the course and also I succeed the government exam. She told me that she gave the opportunities to 5 others students. All of them agreed to redo the class exam at home but only me and another one have invested the time, so the 4 others failed.

Another person told me a similar story (female-female) where she declined the offer of the teacher because this troubled her values. There is a rule where you cannot take a class after you failed 3 times. So you cannot graduate because you did not complete all required courses. I admired her honesty but this impacted considerably her life without a diploma. She could invested another 3 years to study for another diploma but she did not have the strength/motivation after the failure.

Life is filled with opportunities and you are your own judge of your actions.

  • 11
    "I am sorry, but my answer is stereotyped" - You're right, it is. By your standards only men are capable of behaving unprofessionally, and only women are capable of being susceptible to unprofessional behavior.
    – David K
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 18:05
  • 2
    You seem to be severely misjudging how this stuff works. Male-on-male, female-on-male and female-on-female abuse are actually a thing. I double @DavidK words.
    – T. Sar
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 18:06
  • It is not an absolute rule, it is more statically, Example, multiple beautiful female coworkers told me that she received "strange" email by people on linkedin while no nice male had share me this kind of stories. I do not state it does not exists, but it is a lot fewer like sexual abuse at work.
    – Tom Sawyer
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 18:13
  • Also, the coworker let me read some of those messages and I was ashamed by the attitude of the man. Behind a female change a lot of thing in a workplace. Get an invitation from an unknown person, as I female, I would think about my safety first while as a man, I would think about the drama that the situation can generate.
    – Tom Sawyer
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 18:16
  • A teacher has a very different role. The success of the students is often a personal goal of teachers, and they sometimes even go the extra mile to make them succeed. After all, it is their job to teach and get the students to learn the stuff. But here it is a recruiter, and it is not the job of a recruiter to make the applicants succeed in the interview. So this is not really comparable.
    – Thern
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 21:20

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