Getting in Through the Backdoor: Why Informational Interviews Work!

Posted by Caitlin Peerman on Mar 25, 2021 5:18:17 PM

Informational interviews can give you the answers you need to decide if a career is right for you and the tools to land a position if you play your cards right. 


Two women sitting at a table
Informal interviews are like job interviews except you play the role of the interviewer. If you prepare strategic questions to ask beforehand, you can get all the information you need to decide if you are a good fit for the career you are interviewing about. By interviewing and asking the right questions, you can avoid wasting time in a profession that may not be right for you or find out that the profession is just right for you and learn how to get employed. 

Informational interviews aren’t meant to land you a job, but they are excellent networking opportunities that can lead to potential jobs. Keep reading to learn how to use informational interviews to your advantage. 


What Is an Informational Interview?

Informational interviews are interviews where you play the role of the interviewer asking a business professional questions to try and learn more about their career. The goal of an informational interview is not to interview with the intent of getting a job from the person you interview. 

The intent of the interview is to ask the interviewee valuable questions to help you get a feel for what their job entails and if you could be a good fit in that industry or career field. The format of informational interviews is comparable to a job interview, but they aren’t as nerve-wracking. You get to ask the questions and avoid the hot seat. 


How Do You Get an Informational Interview?

It can seem daunting to ask business professionals to take time out of their schedule to speak with you, but the majority of people will be eager to help you or refer you to someone else who can better assist you. Here are some ways to find an informational interview.

  • Leverage the contacts you already have:

Chances are you already know some people that may have contacts in the job field you are interested in. All you have to do is just ask if they know anyone working in the job position, you’re interested in, for a company you’re curious about, or in the career field you what to learn more about. Everyone has friends of friends and you might be surprised by how easy and effective this form of networking is. This can also give your interviewee a good impression of you before you even meet if the shared contact is respected by for interviewee. 

  • Use LinkedIn:

LinkedIn is your best friend when it comes to networking. People on LinkedIn will generally be more than willing to help you find an informational interview or to set one up. Do a little bit of research online to find companies in your area that interest you and pertain to the field of interest you want to learn about. With research and find the company and its employees on LinkedIn. If there is an employee listed with the job title that you want to learn more about don’t hesitate to connect with them and leave them a nice note asking if they would be willing to speak with you soon. Repeat this step and keep reaching out to people because sooner than later someone will be responsive, and you will have to prepare yourself for the informational interview. 


How to Prepare for an Informational Interview?

During the informational interview, you will be playing the role of the interviewer. This means you will be asking most of the questions. With that being said, you need to come to the interview with quality questions prepared for the interviewee. This will ensure both parties are getting the most out of the interview. This interview is meant to help you and give you a better understanding of what the interviewee’s job, career field, or industry is like. Make sure to write your questions with that in mind. 

Try to keep the questions lighthearted and positive, but don’t be afraid to ask questions about the negative aspects of the interviewee’s job as well. For instance, you can ask questions like, “What is your least favorite part of the job?” Asking these questions benefits you because it helps you to understand whether the cons of the job outweigh the pros or vice versa. Just do your best to not dwell on the negatives and keep the overall mood of the interview positive. This will ensure that the interviewee’s image of you is a positive one. 


Why Informational Interviews Help You Prepare for Job Interviews.

Informational interviews allow you to play the role of the employer in a job interview. By asking the right questions you can learn what things an actual employer would want to hear from you. You can ask your interviewee questions such as, “what skills does the perfect candidate need to have for this position?” When the interviewee answers this question, you should take note of these skills. Later, you can self-evaluate and establish which of these skills you possess. 

Use this knowledge when you are preparing for a job interview and you will have a better chance of getting the job because you will know what employers are looking for. Ask the interviewee questions that help you to understand what is needed for the roles you want to apply for. Use their answers and your skills to better market yourself to employers on your resume, cover letters, and during job interviews. 

If the interview is going well, you can nicely ask the interviewee to look over your resume and give you advice on what to change or add to make yourself stand out to employers. Keep in mind, however, that if you don’t appropriately go about this it can come across as rude. You need to be sure that you have prepared good questions, and that the interviewee feels as though you are genuinely interested in speaking with them as opposed to just using this interview as an excuse to get resume tips. 


Informational Interviews Can Lead to Job Offers or Referrals

Even though the intention of an informal interview isn’t to find a job, the interviewee may be able to offer you one. Just like with networking to find the informational interview, you never know who has connections that can get you to that next step. Throughout your interview, the interviewee will be getting a sense of what type of person you are. They may ask you some questions as well that help them to get to know you. This allows them to understand if you would be a good candidate for job openings. They may be able to refer you to jobs or even hire you if they have the authority to. 

The interviewee may know about job openings that aren’t being advertised yet and they could potentially refer you to these positions. 

Just keep in mind that the goal of the interview isn’t for the interviewee to offer you a job. Don’t go into it expecting a job offer or referral. If the interviewee offers you help to find a job, a referral, or even offers you a job, be sure to thank them earnestly. But thank them for their time regardless of if you get an offer or not.

Read this article to find out why thank-you letters can help you land a dream job or position.


Set Yourself Apart from Other Jobseekers with Informational Interviews.

Informational Interviews give you a great chance to learn what employers want from you. If you play your cards right and ask the right questions, they can make the next steps of applying for jobs go smoother and more successful. Now that you have a better understanding of informational interviews you can begin to start looking for an informational interview of your own. 


We wish you the best of luck with your job search and we hope these tips have helped you. If you need any more job tips or help be sure to check out our other blog posts here on 

Topics/Tags/Categories: Interview, Networking, How To

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