Learn how to effectively conduct an informational interview, and what questions you can ask during informational interviews 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 are interested in accruing 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 than that of a traditional job interview. The purpose is not to come away with a job offer, but experience and knowledge. Instead of being asked questions, you are the one asking the questions.
Regardless of whom you are speaking to in the company there is always something to take away from the insight of that person. Think of this meeting as a no-stress version of the typical style because YOU are asking the questions.
The benefits of participating are virtually endless as you can take away experience, new professional contacts, and most importantly, a more defined comprehension of a particular field of interest.
As you conduct a few of these interviews and become better acquainted with the inner workings of corporations, you may more compellingly market yourself in a traditional style interview or over the phone.
- How to Find Contacts
Now that you understand just how much of an advantage these informational interviews can supplement you with, you may be wondering how you are going to locate 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 professors or teachers you have had. Your school's alumni directory is another excellent source.
After determining who you would like to contact, send a short email explaining who you are and why you believe speaking with them about career goals would greatly benefit you. After acknowledging your appreciation, provide your contact information so that they may respond in order to set a meeting date.
- How to Conduct the Interview
As the day of the informational interview approaches, you should have taken the time to organize your thoughts and compile questions that you would like to ask. It may be helpful to write them down.
There are several facets of questioning that you should touch upon. Ask about your contact's personal journey in his/her career, the companies they have worked for, and their thoughts about the general field as a whole.
Here are some example questions to get you started:
- Contact's Personal Career
- What was your major in college?
- What types of jobs have you had?
- What have you enjoyed most about each job?
- What do you find most difficult about your job?
- How is the work environment here?
- What do you like most about the companies you have worked for?
- How have your experiences been with the managers of the companies that you have worked for?
- 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 sense of an industry. There should be minimal stress and you should walk away feeling more informed.
- Contact's Personal Career
- What to Do After Interviewing
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 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.