Informational interview is not exactly a job interview but like a meeting between the job seeker and the employed professional. The platform is created for job seeker to seek information on the aspects of career, about the industry, corporate culture and also employer gets to know about the potential job seeker. It is also a platform for getting employment leads, allow employer to gather information on potential colleague or hire and to expand professional network.
In other words it is a information gathering session to clarify goal careers, to build confidence for job interviews, to identify professional strengths and weakness, to expand professional network, to access up to date career information, to obtain feedback on job search goals.
This type of interviews are mostly initiated through online services, social and career networking, job boards, placement services, professional meetings, company websites, newspaper ads, professors and teachers, professional recruiters, job search portals. But if you are going to initiate it, then what are the aspects you need to consider and how do you go about it?
Informational Interview Tips to Follow:
1. Analyse your goal:
Initially you need to identify your career path or what you choose to go about. Assess your goals, interests, skills, values and abilities. Take time to know what is suitable for you and what would help you to get involved more. Narrow down on the interests that you have within you.
2. Gather information:
Before embarking on informational interviews, try to gather information on the career paths that you have learnt about. Read more about them and analyse yourself. There are many ways to get this information either through books, product brochures, internet or social networking.
3. Decide information:
Having gathered ample information, you make a decision on what sort of careers you would like to pursue. It could be a wish list. Don’t worry about it. Making note of it will help to be clear in identifying the correct choice. It would be advisable to keep a separate file for each of them so that you are not in a soup.
4. List questions:
Against each career choice take time to list the questions you need answers. Make note of each and every detail that you need to know. There is no harm in asking these points as getting information from people working in that field will give genuine answers.
5. Identifying people:
This is the most important or critical task. The list should start from people you know – friends, fellow students, co-workers, neighbours, professors, mentors, Facebook friends, Linked contacts, twitter followers. If you are college graduate referring to college career centre or alumina associations would help to get names of contacts.
6. Use LinkedIn profiles:
Another way to get to ahead with your career is to identify profiles in LinkedIn network and start a chat with them. Information of their email addresses or phone numbers will help to connect easily.
7. Getting appointment:
Establishing a contact with busy professionals is quite difficult and needs patience. But you need to ensure them that you would be requiring a set of answers and not for seeking a job. You could contact using messages or calling them directly. Introduce yourself and get an appointment through letter, phone or in person.
It’s always better to confirm the appointment a day earlier as they could get in any unscheduled meeting. Get to know the location of the office and arrive early on time. This will show that you are having interest to know more about the work culture and the environment.
9. Be polite:
Take care to be polite and courteous. Besides that be professional in your approach. Keep yourself on track and not deviate from the topic or subject you needed to know.
10. Dress appropriately:
Dress appropriately that you make a good impression and would be remembered. A variety of jobs are not advertised on newspapers or job boards and you may not know that the opportunity existed there itself.
11. Carry your resume:
Don’t forget to carry your resume for any informational interview. If there is an opportunity to display it, you could use that instance to ask for ways to improve it. You could also ask if you require to join classes to upgrade your career. Also get to know what you should do or what are the ways you should adopt to make yourself stronger.
12. Note down:
Be prepared to note down the remarks and comments that you would be getting. It would help to review them later on when you are about to make decisions. The notes would also serve as a tool for helping to gather more information if required. Hence carry a note and a pen along with you always.
13. Meet with 2 or 3:
It is advisable to conduct at least 2 or 3 information interviews a week to gather more information. Also see that the amount of time spent is not exceeding the time you had asked for. If your time does not permit to complete the session, you could carry forward those questions in the next meeting as a networking session to stay in touch.
14. Questions to ask:
Ask questions that relate to the industry, company or the position.
- How did you get started and why did this type of work interest you?
- How did you get into this job?
- What sort of experiences you needed to get here?
- What are the various jobs in this field?
- How did you get into this present position?
- Do you find your work exciting?
- What sorts of changes are expected in this occupation?
- What skills and talents are required to be effective in this field?
- How can I know whether I have the required skills to get into this type of job?
- How has this job affected your lifestyle?
- How have your college grades affecting your selection?
- What qualities or abilities contribute to the success in this field?
- What did you prepare to get to this position?
- What are the salary ranges in this company?
- What sort of problems have you encountered?
15. Share about yourself:
Once you gathered information you required, it is professional to share about yourself. Ask them to help out with knowing what other qualities you need to upgrade yourself to be fit for job.
- What other skills do I need to get to enter into this company?
- If there was vacancy arising would you remember me?
- What other companies would you suggest me to explore?
16. Be a good listener:
When attending interview sessions it is always good to be receptive. By doing so you will show that you are keen to know about the information they are sharing. Also you can easily understand what they are trying to imply.
17. More connections:
Before leaving the place, you could ask them for other referrals or personnel whom you could approach and whether that person would not mind having a chat with you. Also get to know if you could intimate the new contact using your name.
18. Send Thank you note:
As this person would have spent their time for answering your queries, you need to make special note of the time they have invested for you by sending them a thank you message within a day of the interview. Don’t forget to include your address, email, phone number at the end of the message to keep in touch for conveying any other job related information.
19. Evaluate information:
After having gathered information from various other interviews, make a consolidated file of the types of data covered along with the details of the people you have met. Compiling such data will help you to analyse various scenarios and different set of information to make a decision. With all these data you would need to ask questions to yourself
- What is it that fits with your interests?
- What do you need to develop?
- What are your plans to move ahead?
20. Keeping in touch:
Having attended an informational interview you are likely to be connected with them. Keep yourself updated with your connections by sending occasional messages, informing about your progress, forwarding content that might help them and congratulating them on any new work assignments or promotions. Keeping in touch will help to build better relationships as you would be respected for your pleasing personality. It could help you to know about job prospects in the company they work.
Hence, you can see that by informational interview you are gathering information and building a strong network which would help you to move ahead in your career. The result of such interviews have remarkable impact on you as you would be getting to learn a lot of experiences that they share. The expertise of someone is being shared with you and it would eventually help you to imbibe those characteristics in you. Once you know the way to go about then, there is no stopping.