What if you could get “inside information” about a company you’re interested in working for, or about a specific job you’re applying for?
If you’re thinking about changing careers, talking to someone who does the job you’re interested in can give you insight into what you will — and will not — like about your desired job.
For someone who hasn’t interviewed for a job in a long time, an informational interview can also provide valuable practice before applying for jobs and going on interviews.
Informational interviews (also called information sessions, informational meetings, or research interviews) are interviews that are conducted to gather information to help prepare for a job interview and/or learn more about a specific job, industry, or company.
However, an informational interview is not a job interview, and should not be confused with one. With an informational interview, you’re not seeking a job — you are seeking information to help you get a job.
Anyone can conduct an informational interview! However, if done the wrong way, you can seriously hurt your chances of ever getting your foot in the door of your ideal company.
Informational interviews are not used as often as they should be by jobseekers, but they can be a valuable tool in your job search. There are 3 golden rules to follow when setting up and conducting informational interviews.
STEP 1: Choosing Who To Interview
When you’re seeking information about a job, company, or industry, there are a variety of sources that can provide you with these details. These can include:
Someone who is doing the job you want, but at a different company than you are thinking of applying to.
- Someone who works in the industry you want to work in — but not necessarily doing the job you want to do.
- Someone who works at the company you want to work at (so you can get an idea of company culture, benefits, and vacation policies, and to possibly get a referral to the person with the authority to hire you for your dream job).
- A professor who teaches classes in your dream industry (so you can learn about what you need to do to prepare yourself to work in the industry).
STEP 2: How do You Find ‘Em?
- Ask the people you know if they know someone who works in the job (or industry) you want to work in.
- Contact your target industry’s trade associations and ask if there is a member (or members) who would be willing to talk to someone who is new to the field.
- Contact your university’s alumni association and/or your former professors or the head of the department.
- Use LinkedIn — conduct a search by job title or company and then either request a connection directly, or see who you know in common who could make the introduction. Also consider contacting people in a LinkedIn Group you’re a member of to see if they would meet with you.
- Reach out to a recruiter in the industry. A recruiter who specializes in the industry will have great insights on industry potential, salary and benefit expectations, and who is hiring.
Make a list of people (and/or companies and job titles) you would like to conduct an informational interview with and start contacting them. Email is generally best for this.
I was given your name by our mutual acquaintance, [Name], in the hopes that you would answer a few questions I have about working [in the __ industry, or at ___ company]. I would love to [speak with you by phone/meet with you for coffee] for [time period] at a [time/place] that is convenient for you. I am [just graduating from ___/looking to make a career change to __ industry], and your insights would be most helpful.
If you would be willing to [meet with me/talk with me by phone], please let me know a couple of times that will work for you to choose from. If you don’t have the time to [meet with me/talk with me] at this time, I understand.
TIP: Make sure you keep your email brief and to the point. Don’t include your whole life history. Remember, you are asking that person to do you a favor. Don’t waste their time. If you haven’t heard back after a week, it’s okay to send a follow-up email. If you don’t receive a response after the second email, move on to the next person on your list.
Now, you may be wondering: Why would someone agree to meet with you for an informational interview? Here are a few of the possible reasons:
- To do a favor for someone. Being introduced by a mutual acquaintance is a great way to secure an informational interview.
- To help others. Many people who have reached a significant career position enjoy “giving back.” Also, those who don’t want to mentor others may still take a one-hour meeting to share their expertise.
- To receive recognition for their accomplishments. People love to talk about themselves — especially successes in their professional life.
- To build their own network. Someone new to the field — or just out of school — provides a fresh perspective, which may help the interviewer do their job better.
STEP 3: What Not To Do In An Informational Interview
Don’t waste your interviewer’s time. Again, be sure that you’ve done your homework ahead of time so that you are not asking simple questions. This is your chance to get “inside information,” so take advantage of the opportunity!
Don’t forget that an interview is still a two-way dialogue. One common mistake in an informational interview is to treat it as an interrogation, instead of as a discussion. Even though you may have a limited amount of time to ask your questions, don’t cut the person off when you have the information you wanted from their answer. Recognize that you may not be able to ask all the questions you wanted to, but that there may be opportunities to ask additional questions in the future if you handle the informational interview well.
Ask if you can take notes during the interview, but don’t be so focused on your note-taking that you’re not engaged in the conversation. In most cases, the big picture is more important than the small details. But do jot down notes so you can fill in the details later.
TIP: The number one rule for informational interviews is that you do not ask for a job (or turn the informational interview into a sales pitch). An informational interview may lead to a job interview, but the quickest way to have your informational interview end abruptly is to direct your questions into how that person should hire you for the job you want.
Enlisting the help of others through informational interviews can be one of the best ways to move your job search forward and/or accomplish a career change. Having the right information will help you be more effective in your job search. Research and relationship-building — ultimately, leading to one or more informational interviews — can give you a significant advantage over other job applicants, and help you secure your dream job!
If you’d like to dive deeper and start charting your course to the path of success, feel free to contact us for an opportunity to enroll in our next Courageous Job Seeker Success Bootcamp (TM). You’ll gain access to actual phone and email scripts that other Courageous Job Seekers have used to land their ideal job fast!
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“Would you like to learn how to quickly and easily get more interviews, shorten your job search and increase your salary? Check out this website www.leezabyers.com for free articles, free resources and to check your Career Conqueror Quotient (CCQ). Leeza Byers is a Job-Search Strategy Coach, Author, Motivational Speaker, Internationally Certified Career Management Coach, and an Award-Winning Internationally Certified Resume Writer.”
Leeza Byers, who’s also known as “The Rapid Employment Expert,” is the creator of the COURAGEOUS JOB SEEKER SUCCESS BOOT CAMP™ which gets job seekers employed in 5-8 weeks (some even do it in 3 weeks); which is less than half the national average of 39-54 weeks it takes to find a new job in today’s tough job market.
Want to make your next teleseminar or live event dynamic, memorable and inspiring? Contact Leeza at: Info@LeezaByers.com to find out how!
Leeza Byers, The Rapid Employment Expert | Info@LeezaByers.com | Ph: 1-888-321- GET HIRED (4384)