What Is an Informational Interview?
A person will change careers several times during their life as they mature and learn more about themselves and the world around them. New employment fields are being invented every day as technology leaps forward with gaining momentum. For example, a few short years ago no one had ever heard of a Social Media Manager. Today, these online angels organize and operate the social media accounts of countless celebrities and businesses. With so many options out there, how does a person learn about what they may like and be good at?
NARROW THE FIELD
To start, write out a list of the companies you think you might enjoy working for. Investigate each company; reviewing press releases and annual reports. Familiarize yourself with their products, mission statements, successes and problems to help you decide if you're still interested in the company.
While this process can be time-consuming, it will help you stand out from the competition and increase your chances of gaining employment with the company.
All this research should provide you with enough information to narrow your list of potential employers. The next step is to write up a list of questions to ask during an informational interview. You could ask about:
→ What it's like to work for the company;
→ What the job duties are;
→ How to get started with the company;
→ What advice the person can offer.
You want to keep the interview brief, so ask questions that get right to the heart of the matter. Once your list is ready, it is time to schedule the interview.
Be sure to treat the receptionist with respect. This person is the gatekeeper to the company and will pass along their impressions of you to the people in charge.
SET UP THE INTERVIEW
Ask for the employer or HR director specifically and address them by his/her proper name. When you have them on the phone, introduce yourself and explain why you are contacting them. Ask to schedule an informational interview with them and, let them know that you will only need about 10-15 minutes of their time. Be sure to thank the person before hanging up.
Be aware: Sometimes, the person will want give you the interview over the phone, so have your information and interview questions handy.
Whether you are doing the interview over the phone or in person, keep in mind that an information interview is a professional consultation. Act accordingly.
» Have your research notes and list of questions on hand;
» Have a pen and paper to take notes;
» Stay within the time frame you gave;
» Have a copy of your resume with you in case they want to review it;
» Thank the person for their time and help.
After the interview, be sure to send a thank you letter.
Approximately 80% of jobs are not advertised in the open market and many companies always have "feelers" out, trying to find people who will be a valuable asset to their business.
An informational interview is a great way to get on an employer's radar and make a positive impression. What you learn can help you create a great cover letter that is personalized to the company and make a good impact at a job interview. Plus, the connections you make with the people of influence in the company will be extremely valuable in increasing your chances of being hired.
© 2012 Rosa Marchisella