Whether you love or hate job interviews, on the path to your perfect career you shouldn’t be the only one being interviewed. Informational interviews with people working in the industry you are interested in are a great way to network with potential employers while gaining valuable information that can help you make important career decisions.
What is an informational interview?
An informational interview allows a student, recent graduate or career-changer to ask questions to someone working in the career field they are interested in.
How to secure an interview
When contacting someone for an informational interview, it is important to make sure you don’t come across as if you are searching for a job. An informational interview should be a casual, no-pressure meeting with the goal of learning more about a potential career option.
When asking to meet with someone it is also important to mention a time commitment you are looking for. If you mention meeting for a quick 15 minute coffee break, make sure you end your meeting after 15 minutes.
Since you will be able to research the role of the person you want to interview, mentioning your interest in a project they are working on or a product their company creates can be a great way to show your genuine interest in their career.
Who to interview
The potential for informational interviews are nearly anywhere. For example, if you work at a large company, you could try contacting someone who works in the department you are most interested in. Most companies offer employee databases where you can access telephone numbers and email addresses of people you might want to interview.
Informational interviews can be a great way to further build a relationship with someone you have briefly met at a workplace or networking event. If someone has given you their business card or contact information, don’t hesitate to politely ask them to meet with you. Remember that successful men and women were once students or recent grads in your position and will often be happy to meet with younger people who are enthusiastic about reaching their career goals.
I’m not the most outgoing person when it comes to approaching someone I don’t know at an event or workplace. Informational interview are an especially useful networking opportunity for those who aren’t inclined to spontaneously embrace networking opportunities. Setting up an informational interview allows you to prepare notes, research the role of the person you are interviewing and bring a list of well-thought out questions, therefore avoiding any conversational lulls.
While a one-on-one interview may seem more intimidating than approaching someone at a networking type event, informational interviews are a great tool for those who don’t have the gift of the gab because the person you’re interviewing will do most of the talking as long as you ask the right questions.