It’s an amazing opportunity to establish and grow industry connections, provides you with wonderful ‘inside’ information on the industry and specific roles, and can provide you with the confidence boost you need to secure your next job. It can be used very effectively if you are looking at entering the workforce for the first time, or are purely contemplating a career change.
You’ve likely heard the saying that ‘information is power’ and informational interviews can provide you with just that! The information gathered can help you to become more informed about an industry, a specific job, or company you are considering joining, in addition to the obvious benefits of developing your contacts. Here’s a few tips to help you get the most out of your informational interviews
1. Just Ask
Whether you’re asking someone you know or asking a complete stranger, asking someone for an informational interview can be a little uncomfortable if you haven’t done it before.
It’s important however to bear in mind that most people would feel flattered by the request as it makes them feel important! Just pick up the phone or email them and simply outline your request.
Remember, the informational Interview is not about asking for a job – it is about seeking information. If your request sounds like you’re really just looking for a job, there’s a good chance this person will simply refer you to HR or the company’s career page. So be sure to make it clear that you really want to talk to this person to learn about his or her career history and perspective on the job or industry.
2. Do your homework
Believe me – one of the most frustrating aspects of an informational interview for the person being interviewed, is if you turn up up-prepared! Remember, the person you are interviewing has taken time out of their busy schedule to meet with you, so it’s absolutely critical that you turn up prepared as with as much background information as you can – on them, and the company.
3. Prepare Your Questions
Write your questions down in a notebook and take it along with you. Include questions such as “how did you get started in this industry?”, “what does a typical day at work look like?” and “what do you believe are the most important traits required to be successful in this role”, and so on.
You will very likely soon find the interview is flowing nicely and you are getting loads of good information, however, it’s important to be respectful of your interviewee’s time. Don’t go over your allotted time and if you still have more questions, ask if you can schedule another time to continue the interview. This gives them the opportunity to either extend the interview, or bring the interview to a timely conclusion. Either way, it is likely that they will appreciate your respect for their time and your professionalism, which is the perfect way to end an interview.
4. Cement the Connection
One of the biggest mistakes I have seen is that often people fail to follow up their informational interview.
Always send a thank you note. Expressing your gratitude will not only make your interviewee feel good, but will keep the door open to developing your relationship with her in the future.
Personally, I encourage my clients to set up as many informational interviews as they can. As a very minimum my clients have come away with valuable information that has gone on to serve them well in future interviews, and they have developed some valuable contacts and referrals within the industry. I’ve even had a number of clients who have been offered a job by the person they interviewed!
Author: Lyndal Clark
Lyndal Clark is a highly knowledgeable and approachable Career Coach at My Coach, and is well known for her ability to relate to and interact effectively with young adults. With significant experience in HR, Recruiting, Training and Employment Coaching, Lyndal is extremely successful in helping young adults transition into employment. My Coach provides expert coaching in all areas of employment including creating compelling cover letters and stand-out CV’s and provides tailored 1:1 interview training and support. For further information: www.mycoach.net.nz, www.facebook.com/CoachLyndal or email firstname.lastname@example.org.