Whether you’re looking for your first job or you are a seasoned professional thinking of making a move, an informational interview can be a valuable source of occupational information. An informational interview is an opportunity to learn about a new field, learn more about a company you’d like to work for or to get inside information about new opportunities.
Informational Interviews: What are They?
An informational interview is not a job interview. It’s informal, sometimes conducted over coffee, over the phone, or in the office, it’s used to collect information about a career field, industry, or company.
These interviews give you the opportunity to speak with someone who works in a field you’d like to know more about, in a position you want to have someday, or at a company you’d like to work for. They are simply an avenue to gather information.
When you go on an informational interview, you’ll want to ask questions about the person’s career path to find out how they got to where they are (and maybe to where you want to be), why they chose the industry, what they like about the industry (and don’t like), and what their job is actually like—what are their responsibilities, what’s a normal day like?
The Benefits of Informational Interviews
An informational interview is a great way to gain firsthand experience about the industry of the job you’d like to be in. Additionally, it can help you:
- Practice your interview skills: Since you are not interviewing for a position, there’s little or no stress. It provides you with a way to build your self-confidence and improve your interviewing skills. You’ll learn what questions to ask, and what answers employers are looking for.
- Learn the buzzwords: Speaking with someone in the industry is a great way to learn the buzzwords of the job you want; you’ll know which words and phrases to include in your resume and cover letter to catch a hiring manager’s eye.
- Build your network: If you make a good impression during your informational interview, the person you speak with may connect you with others in the industry, and that could result in a new job opportunity. And even if it doesn’t, it WILL definitely help you expand your network of contacts.
How to Schedule an Informational Interview
Networking is a great way to find someone to interview. Plus, informational interviews are great ways to expand your network. Reach out to your friends, family, and acquaintances to see if they know someone in the industry you’re interested in pursuing. If so, ask them to make the introduction.
If that doesn’t work for you, consider doing some research on LinkedIn. Look for the company you’d like to work for and reach out to someone there. Send them a note and ask if they’d be available for an informational interview. Even if they can’t meet you in person, they may have time for a phone call.
The more people you meet, or speak with, during informational interviews, the larger your network gets. This can really benefit you in your job search.
Consider reaching out to your contacts today to schedule your first (or fifth!) informational interview!
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