The words “informational interview” can seem very daunting- but they don’t have to be! It simply takes some time and research to set up a meeting with a professional to ask them about their job. Talking to a professional in your field of interest can give you a better idea of a career you are interested in- or maybe determining if you need to go in a completely different direction. It might get you a job. You might learn something about the industry. They may be so impressed at your motivation that they recommend you to another professional who is opening up a job position. To help you succeed in conducting an informational interview, here are 5 easy steps to ensure you nail it.
- Be prepared. A professional is taking time out of his or her busy schedule to meet with you. It’s more for your benefit then theirs, so respecting their time is important. Prepare a minimum of 10 questions. What is their favorite part of the job? What is their least favorite part? What is a day in the life look like? What qualifies someone for this job?
- Research. This is part of the preparation process. Look at their LinkedIn profile. Where did they graduate? What jobs did they have previous to this one? What groups are they a part of? Look at their company’s social media sites, and dig into their website. It sets you apart when it’s evident that you’ve done your research, and can ask educated questions, such as “I noticed that you recently rebranded your website- what did that process look like?”
- Have a business card. Every student should have a business card. It only takes a few minutes to make, and is a simple and professional way to give the interviewee your contact information. It should include your name, email, phone number (if you’re comfortable), and your top three strengths (ie. Leader. Motivator. Creator.). Check out this website for reasonable prices and unique designs.
- You’re not there to get a job. You’re there to learn about a job. Don’t be the one to bring up the possibility of a position. It can make the professional feel that all you wanted out of the meeting was a job, and not to hear what they had to say. If they happen to mention a job opening at their place of work, or ask for your resume, always have it on hand.
- Follow up. A hand written note is essential to send soon after you conduct an informational interview. Let them know that you really appreciated their time, and that you plan to stay in touch. If you have been given access to their email, send them an update once a month on what you’ve been up to in school and in your pursuit of a job/internship. Ask them how their job is going, what they’ve learned, and any advice they might have for you.
Set a goal for yourself to complete 1 interview per month- even after you have a job. You never know what you’ll learn. If you email or call them to request an interview, the worst they can say is no. Don’t let the fear of rejection keep you from furthering your career. Now, go get em’!