Informational interviews are a way for job seekers to learn about potential career paths and networking opportunities. The process is fairly simple, but it’t not always straightforward. Here are the ins and outs of informational interviews so you can get the most from this type of meeting. A informational interview is an opportunity for you, as the job seeker, to gain access to people who work in jobs that interest you.
Typically, these individuals can give you a clearer picture of what that line of work is like and if it’s a good fit for you. You should think of informational interviews as informal conversations—not interrogative interviews. The goal is to get insider information, not necessarily to find out if they have any openings at their organisation or if they can refer you for one.
What is an Informational Interview? #
An informational interview is a meeting with a professional to discuss their career and get advice on how to advance your own career. Typically, you initiate the meeting, and while you may use the meeting to ask questions, the person you’re meeting with is not expecting to give you a job or to be asked for advice on your job search. While it may seem like a subtle difference, it’s an important one. While informational interviews can be incredibly useful, you have to be careful not to cross the line into a job interview. You want to get as much as you can from the experience without asking for anything in return.
Why Are Informational Interviews Important? #
Successful people are often willing to help others succeed, so if you ask for advice, many people will be happy to help. By meeting with people who work in fields you’re interested in, you are given the opportunity to ask questions about the career. You can ask about the day-to-day, training required, and other details that might be hard to find in books or online. You can also form connections that will help you in the future.
Networking is a key part of a successful job search. You have to meet and talk to as many people as possible, and informational interviews are a great way to do that. The contacts you make through these meetings may be able to point you in the direction of other useful connections or provide you with useful advice and insights you can use to improve your situation.
How to find informational interviews #
You have a couple of options when it comes to finding people to conduct informational interviews. You can use your network, the internet, and your career center to find people to talk to. Your network is the best place to start because you have a relationship with the people in your network, so connecting with them is easier than connecting with strangers from the internet or at your career center. To find people to talk to, use your network, such as family, friends, and former co-workers. You can also use social media to post about your job search. You can ask for referrals or try a site like LinkedIn, where you can put out a request for people to talk to. You can use a site like ZoomInfo to find people based on their jobs.
Before the Interview #
Before you meet with someone, contact them and let them know the purpose of the meeting. In most cases, they will be happy to meet with you, but you want to make it clear that you are not asking for a job or any other type of commitment. Try to set up the meeting at their office if you can. Meeting in a neutral location can make you feel uncomfortable, and you may be more nervous than you need to be. If you can’t meet them in their office, at least meet in a place where you feel like you are in control.
During the Interview #
There are a few things you should do during the informational interview to make the most of it.
Be Prepared – First, make sure you are prepared. You don’t need to write down specific questions, but you should have a general idea of what you want to learn.
Listen – Second, listen carefully to the things your interviewee is saying. Look for commonalities between what they are saying and what you are looking for in a career. If you don’t know what you are looking for in a career, this will be even more important.
Ask Open-ended Questions – Avoid yes or no questions because they don’t allow a conversation to flow as well as open-ended questions do. Open-ended questions will get you more information than yes or no questions.
Follow Up – After your interview, send an email thanking the person for their time. This is a good idea even if the interview went badly. You can also follow up with a phone call if you want. In your follow-up, be sure to ask if they know of anyone else you can talk to.
After the Interview #
After the interview, make sure you follow up with a thank you note, and try to build the relationship you created during the interview. Send the person a link to an article you think they will find interesting or send them an article you wrote. This will help you stay in the person’s mind and build a relationship. If you find that the person you interviewed with is someone you would like to build a relationship with, you can try to do that, but don’t push too hard. Letting the relationship grow naturally will be more effective in the long term than being overly aggressive.
Informational interviews are a valuable tool in your job search arsenal. They provide you with a chance to get insider information about a potential career path. They also give you an opportunity to network with influential people. In order to make the most of the informational interview process, you need to prepare for the interview. You also need to pay attention during the interview and follow up after the interview.