Informational interviews are wonderful opportunities to gain additional knowledge about possible careers, what a specific job entails, and about a company’s culture. In an informational interview you are NOT asking about a job – you are gaining information and data that will help you make decisions about your career.
The informational interview is generally a short, informal conversation with a person in your field or in the field you are interested in pursuing.
- Use the informational interview as an opportunity to build your network.
Think in terms of everyone you know as being part of your network. As you talk to people, let them know what type of job you are seeking or what area you are most interested in pursuing. Everyone you know has their own network and now you have expanded your network to include anyone in their network – as long as they are willing to make an in-person or email introduction.
- Gather data by asking questions beyond basic informational questions.
You should already know about the company from your research, so ask open-ended questions that will get your new contact to open up and talk to you. Ask what they like best about their career. Or ask what advice they would give a new person just starting out.
This information gives you a basis to ask more in-depth questions at your next informational interview.
- Explore many career options in a short amount of time without a lot of commitment.
Since you are asking for advice, you can figure out the jobs and careers that no longer interest you and move on to more focused informational interviews.
- Utilize the conversation to ask questions about company culture, current projects, past accomplishments, and future goals.
Every piece of information you gain will help you make your own decisions regarding the type of culture that works best for you.
Recognize that an informational interview is NOT a job interview. You are simply gaining information that will help you make career decisions.
Do not expect job offers to come from informational interviews. Instead, build your network and gain valuable information that will help you make career decisions in the future.