The Best Tips in How to Tackle Your Informational Interviews

Posted by Nicole Cunius on Dec 3, 2019 1:52:34 PM

Cartoon interview with man and women using empty air bubble quotes

OurFirstJobSearch has created an easier and simpler tool for helping a job seeker find their dream job through informational interviews. Informational interviews are intended to help those who want a change in their career path or are unsure of where they would like to take their career.

What is an Informational Interview?

An informational interview is a brief meeting with an employed professional and a job seeker interested in learning the aspects of that particular industry. The purpose of an informational interview is to receive insider knowledge of the industry. These interviews should last no more than 30 minutes and should inform the individual of the expectations of their desired industry.

How do you set up an informational interview?

Setting up an informational interview may feel awkward or uncomfortable, but it is the easiest step within the job search process. The first step to take to set up an informational interview is to utilize your personal network. The reason for pursuing your own contacts is because family and friends can lead you towards more connections. Second, you want to email the individual asking to set up a time for an informational interview. In your email you want to make sure you express clear interest to meeting in person or speaking over the phone/video chat.

You have your informational interview set up, but what questions do you ask?

When heading into your informational interview make sure you dress to impress, arrive early and come prepared! The best preparation includes researching the company and background research on the individual whom you will be speaking with. A thorough search on the individual can be conducted through LinkedIn. Create some questions to ask from the research you found on him or her and the company; having these questions ready to go will help show the employed professional you’re serious about pursuing a career in this particular field.  

Remembering these seven questions will help you to determine if this career path is right for you:

Question 1: What attracted you to this career path?

(Asking a question like this one gives the job seeker a greater understanding to the “why”

aspect of why that employed professional chose their career.)

Question 2: What previous professional experiences have helped you the most in this role?

(Putting yourself out there by asking bold questions allows the employer to share how he or she got there and what previous professional experiences have helped them the most with their career.)

Question 3: What’s something that would surprise people about your day-to-day?

(Having a question like this might seem repetitive but hearing more in-depth examples of the position will empower you to find more about the lesser-known facts of a specific position.)

Question 4: What’s one thing you wish somebody told you before going into this field?

(Having a “surprise angel” will enable you to hear more about the shocking areas of the position.)

Question 5: What are some of the biggest rewards of your position?

(Although, it’s good to hear some of the negative aspects of the position, you also want to hear about what he or she loves about their career.)

Question 6: How would you describe somebody who excels in this career?

(Asking the employer how they would describe a qualified candidate, can give you some insight about how to succeed in that job. As well if he or she touches on any skills you already have, you know you have some sort of leverage into the position.)

Question 7: What’s most important to prepare for a role like yours?

(Ending your conversation with a question like this helps the job seeker walk away with valuable information.)

Most Important question to ask at the end of your meeting: So now that we had time to talk, do you know anyone else I should meet?

(Saving this question until the end of your meeting allows you to grow your network and keep connecting with new individuals.)

After the interview, write a brief outline of the topics covered and the information you discovered. Taking the time to write out a brief outline helps the job seeker determine whether this is a good career choice.

What are the benefits of informational interviews?

The informational interview promotes relevant information about the realities of working in an industry, insider tips and knowledge about how to land a career position and succeed in the industry.

Some benefits of informational interviews include:

  1. No Stress

Informational interviews are not a job interview. Remember you are the one in control during this meeting. 

  1. Insider Information

As the job seeker, you are able to ask about certain topics such as salary and benefits that wouldn’t be acceptable in your first formal job interview. You’ll be able to find out all of the rewards and challenges in that career, including, tips and advice that can strengthen your resume to fit the job description.

  1. Learning

You’re able to learn so much more about the career that wouldn’t be found in a Google search. You may even learn about different career paths within the industry or ones related to your interest. 

  1. Building Relationships

The biggest, and most important, part of having a successful job search is who you know. Your connections are your biggest tool when it comes to job searching.

Follow Up

After having your meeting with the employed professional you should write a thank you letter or email. When writing your letter include information that left an impression on you. This shows the employer you appreciated their time and their information was valuable to you. Here are some tips on how to write a professional thank you letter.

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Topics/Tags/Categories: Interview, Networking, LinkedIn Tips, Job Research

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