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Informational Interviews

Job seekers and employers throw out the option of an “informational interview” all the time. But, what does that really mean? And, more importantly, do they really accomplish anything?

For starters just by setting up informational interviews you are expanding your network. Reach out to colleagues, friends, managers, professors; ask them to help you set an informational interview with someone in their network. The more people you meet the more chances you have to expand your career goals, and have people to whom you can actually connect professionally. People want to help, and in the future you will want to return the favor to those contacts or a new contact.

The process of informational interviewing will expand your network and give you some real interviewing practice, as well as give you a lot of information you can use in achieving your job goals.

  • Are you thinking of changing fields? What better way to learn the realities of a new business role than from someone who actually lives it?
  • Company culture is probably the number one source of work satisfaction. An informational interview is an excellent way to glean evidence of the daily flavor of an organization. Is it silent and everyone working intently at their desk? Is it chatty and noisy? Is the office environment loose or regimented? Are people smiling? Observe and learn all you can to decide if a particular company is a place you’d fit and want to spend the major portion of each day. Keep culture top of mind as you continue to weigh your options.
  • Informational interviews are a great way to stay connected to your industry, and within your industry. Speaking to people within your industry of choice keeps you up-to-date and in-the-know on what’s happening at specific companies and your industry as a whole. You’ll be well-versed when you have your next job interview.
  • Be prepared. Educate yourself about the company and person you are meeting. Have a list of questions or topics you’d like to discuss - and be prepared to talk about your background and career goals. Always bring your resume - however, only offer it if it is requested.

Informational interviews offer much you can use to your advantage as you plan your next career move and expand your professional network. Be gracious. People are giving you their time and insight: Use it wisely, send a thank you note, and pay-it forward.