Making Informational Interviews Work for You
Informational interviews are an invaluable tool for today’s job search. While you never actually ask for a job during an informational interview, many do lead directly or indirectly to employment opportunities down the road. In part one of our series on information interviews, we look at why you should do informational interviews.
For the uninitiated, informational interviews are person-to-person networking involving meetings with people purely for the purpose of connecting and exchanging information. Often a job seeker will reach out to others in his or her field, job or profession to learn more about opportunities or determine how skills might be used. Anyone changing fields will certainly use informational interviews to learn more about breaking into the new area.
Here are some of the other goals of informational interviews:
1. Gain insight and expertise
2. Learn about the state of a particular industry or company
3. Learn more about a certain job title or how a skill set is being used
4. Gain understanding about what it takes to enter a field, company or job type
5. Become acquainted with key players in an industry or at a company
6. Develop an understanding of the issues and challenges facing an industry or company
7. Explore how your skill set might be valuable in solving some of these challenges
8. Discover ways you can help a new contact
9. Discover ways your new contact can help you
10. Share who you are and the value you have to offer
11. Get feedback on your job search, resume, the field or job you are targeting
12. Gain additional new contacts
13. Impress the person enough that they will keep an eye out for you in the future
You won’t achieve all of these goals in every informational interview but before requesting one, think through what you hope to get out of it. Notice that “Get a job” is not one of the choices! Getting a job is not an outcome of a typical informational interview. Yet having them is an important part of moving your job search forward and will ultimately lead to job opportunities.
Up next, using your goals for an informational interview to craft a request for one, and how to prepare once you’ve got one lined up.