Learn how to effectively conduct an informational interview, and what questions to ask during an informational interview to make the most out of speaking with people in your network.
What are Informational Interviews For?Participating in an informational interview is truly a priceless resource because, really, you have nothing to lose. If you are unsure of what career path to take, or you are interested in acquiring more contacts, the benefits are endless!
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How Do You Conduct an Informational Interview?
- What Is It?
The goal of an informational interview is much different from a traditional job interview. The purpose is not to come away with a job offer, but to gain experience and knowledge. Instead of being asked questions, you are the one asking the questions.
Regardless of whom you speak to, there will always be some insight to take away from that person. Think of this as a no-stress meeting because you are the one who is asking the questions.
The benefits of participating are virtually endless. You can take away experience, new professional contacts, and most importantly, a more defined comprehension of your particular field of interest.
After you conduct a few of these interviews, you should become better acquainted with the inner workings of a business. You may more compellingly market yourself in a traditional interview or one conducted over the phone.
- How Do You Find Contacts?
Do you now understand how much of an advantage these informational interviews can give you by supplementing your knowledge? Now you must be wondering how you are going to locate these contacts.
Dig deep into your network, you could contact former colleagues or previous employers, or you may even know family friends who could have connections. If all else fails, use your resources. Online social media is an effective tool to gain contacts. You can even ask the professors or teachers you had. Your school's alumni directory is another excellent source.
After determining whom you would like to contact, send an email explaining who you are and why you believe speaking with them about your career goals would greatly benefit you. After acknowledging your appreciation, please provide your contact information so that they may respond to set a meeting date.
- How Do You Conduct the Interview?
As the day of the informational interview approaches, you should have taken the time to organize your thoughts and compiled a list of questions that you would like to ask. It would be helpful to write them down.
There are several facets of questioning upon which you should touch. Ask about your contact's journey through his/her career. Ask them about the companies they have worked for, and their thoughts about the field as a whole.
Here are some example questions to get you started:
- Contact's Personal Career
- What was your major in college?
- At which types of jobs have you worked?
- What have you enjoyed most about each job?
- What do you find most difficult about your job?
- How is the working environment here?
- What do you like most about the companies for which you have worked?
- How have your experiences been with the managers of the companies for which you have worked?
- General Field
- How has this field changed over time?
- Do you believe that the job market prospects are positive?
- What can I do to make an entrance into this industry?
Remember that this interview is purely for you to get a feel for an industry. There should be minimal stress and you should walk away feeling more informed.
- Contact's Personal Career
- What Do You Do After the Interview?
After your meeting is complete, go home and write a thank you email right away. Completing a note soon after your meeting ensures that you remember the details and you can draft a more personal and relevant thank you letter. Send the thank you email the next day, it is only polite to show appreciation to someone who gave you advice, and more importantly their time. Click the Start button below to write a letter using our free creator program.