Informational interviews are a way to meet with someone and gather information about a career path, industry, company, and more. These appointments are usually fairly short and casual – someone might want to meet up with you for a 15-minute coffee break, for example. As is evident from the name, an informational interview’s primary purpose is to learn. In other words, an informational interview is not about trying to get an interview or job offer from that company. Instead, you are the interviewer and you ask someone else about what they think. The tables are turned!
If you have never asked for an informational interview before, here are a few tips to ensure that you avoid any embarrassing faux pas.
Utilize Your Network
To find someone to talk to about a job, field, or other area you want to learn more about, first ask your network. If you have contacts in that field, you may ask them directly if they would meet with you, or if they can get you in contact with someone else you should meet with. LinkedIn is a great tool for this.
Send a Request Letter
Whether or not you found your targeted contact through your network, you will most likely have to send them a letter or email to explain why you want to meet up. Be brief and explain that you are interested in an informational interview. Remember to be polite and keep your writing formal.
Once you’ve made an appointment time, do some preparation ahead of time. Bring a list of questions you want to ask, and if necessary, do preliminary research so your questions are not too simple. You may also bring your resume or business card – but remember that the purpose is not to get a job offer, but to gain information.
Say Please and Thank You
Finally, be as polite as possible! Say “please” and “thank you” to your interviewee – after all, they did take the time to meet with you. In general, try to be respectful of that person’s time and avoid being late or running too long.
Informational interviews can offer many resources, whether you are wondering if you should take a certain class or researching what you need to do to make your next career move. Following the tips in this article will help ensure your informational interview goes as smoothly as possible.