Setting Up and Preparing for Informational Interviews

Setting Up and Preparing for Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are an important part of a successful job search. In part one of our series, we established some of the goals for setting up informational interviews. Now, how to set up these meetings, and prepare for them.

You may not be sure where to find these networking contacts, but these people may actually be closer to you than you think.  Perhaps you met somebody at an event and were interested in learning more about what they did.  The contact could be a friend of a friend.  It might even be somebody you know well, but want to have a formal conversation regarding his or her profession.  Informational interviews can be conducted with people you don’t know, but they are much more comfortable with people you have at least an acquaintance with.

When getting in touch with your contact, be very specific with your request so they’re clear you’re not asking for a job.  Some examples of what you might ask for include:

  • I’d like to learn more about your job, how you trained for it and how you worked your way up to your current position.
  • I’m interested in your industry and hope you can tell me about points of entry for the field.
  • I’ve followed your work for some time and would appreciate your insights on the current state of the field and where future opportunities might be.
  • You come highly recommended by a colleague of mine and I would appreciate the opportunity to learn more about your field and area of expertise.
  • I enjoy our social relationship but am eager to learn more about your professional life.

If you are unsure how to make contact, here is a blog on the Art of Cold Contact.

Once you have the appointment set up, prepare thoroughly so you are confident for the meeting:

  1. Research the company and individual.   Do your homework before meeting with your contact.  Read over the company website.  Do a Google search and read about anything that may be going on in the news.  Find a corporate blog and see what people are saying.  Find out about the person you’re interviewing via LinkedIn and Google.
  2. Develop questions.  This is your chance to get first hand knowledge of a job you desire or field of interest; be sure to show up with good questions!  Ask open-ended questions to give the interviewee a chance to elaborate on answers.  A good rule of thumb is to have around 10 questions ready.
  3. Dress professionally.  While an informational interview is casual, you should not dress as such.  The person you are interviewing could end up interviewing you for a job if things go well.  Put your best foot forward when making this first impression!

You’ve done your research, you’re dressed, and ready to go.  Next, how to successfully conduct the informational interview.


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