Informational interviews are a great tool to utilize as you navigate your job search. They give you an eye into an organization before you commit to applying for a job. At their most basic, informational interviews simply give you—you guessed it—information about the company you are meeting with. There isn’t an obligation to continue pursuing the company in your job search; indeed, informational interviews can help you weed out companies that you feel won’t be a good fit for you long-term. Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for informational interviews.
Figure Out Who You Know
The beginning of any job search should begin with mapping out who you know—the connections that can get you farther than your resume alone. This prep step can pinpoint who knows you at various companies and who would be willing to set up informational interviews. Perhaps members of your network know employees at companies that interest you and could facilitate introductions on your behalf. Simply put, never doubt the power of your network!
Have an end-goal in mind
As you prepare for informational interviews, keep in mind the information you are hoping to gain from the conversations. You might be thinking about changing industries and want to learn more about a new sector. What is it specifically you want to know more about? It could be job-specific, such as day-to-day responsibilities of the organization, or it could be company-specific, such as how the company compares to its competitors. Knowing from the onset what knowledge you hope to gain allows for a richer conversation that won’t veer off-course and prove a waste of your valuable time.
Write Out Questions
Once you know what you hope to get out of the informational interview, take the time to hash out the questions you want to ask. Try to avoid asking questions that are too obvious. A basic rule of thumb to follow: If you can Google the answer, there’s no use in wasting time asking the question. Everyone is busy, and no one wants to waste time answering basic questions. The point of the informational interview is to be able to access information that isn’t otherwise available to you. Use this to your advantage as you brainstorm useful questions that align with your goal for the conversation.
Once you have your date set, get ready to impress your interviewer with your candor and preparedness. The conversation is a casual meeting with a company representative, but don’t let your professionalism slip because of it. You are still making an impression and don’t want the interview to rule out your ability to apply to the organization in the future. Be mindful of the time and the interviewer’s calendar; you don’t want to take up more time than is scheduled. Have fun, be engaged and soak up as much information as possible. Last but not least, be sure to follow-up! This shows your thoughtfulness and demonstrates your polished demeanor.
Informational interviews are a valuable part of the job interviewing process. Mind these tips to make them as valuable as possible for you and your goals.
Burchard & Associates is an executive search firm specialized in accounting and finance recruiting across all business sectors, including manufacturing, retail, wholesale/distribution, healthcare, financial services, and more.