Informational Interviews Lead to Career Success
Informational interviews are a great way for students to learn about a particular career by speaking with someone who is knowledgeable about the field. It is a way to learn about how to succeed and what to expect from jobs in that field. You can learn about the realities of the job market and receive tips about how to break into the industry.
Typical informational interview topics include:
– Work environment
– Preferred skills and qualifications
– Industry trends
– Career path of interviewee
– Work-life balance
– Career challenge and rewards
Remember, an informational interview is not a job interview. It is an opportunity to speak with someone who works in a field that interests you so that you can learn more about the industry and develop contacts. Even though you should never ask for a job in an informational interview, it does not mean that you cannot end up with a job prospect. Many industries have a hidden job market, meaning that not every company actively advertises open positions. Networking and referrals can lead to employment because many companies look to existing contacts to fill job openings before turning to the general public.
When setting up the informational interview, ask for what you want and give details. Explain what you hope to learn, why you’re interested in this person, and where you got his or her name. Generally, people are willing to give students career advice, but remember you are asking for a favor. It is important to be accommodating. Ask the person you wish to interview whether he or she wants to meet in person or over the phone; ask how much time he or she is able to give you for the interview; and let the that person select the best time for the interview.
Since you are asking the questions in an informational interview, be sure to do your research. It is helpful to know about the field, the person, and the company before your interview. This will help you decide what types of questions to ask. The more you know, the more confident you will feel and the easier it will be to display passion for the industry. This will help you make a good impression and stand out in the interviewee’s memory.
At the conclusion of the interview, ask the person if there is anyone else they could recommend that you speak to. This is an opportunity to keep building your contacts within the industry. Always send a follow-up thank you note and work to develop an ongoing relationship with the person you interviewed. If someone recommended that you speak to this interviewee, report back to that person and thank him or her for the referral.