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Understanding Informational Interviews

An informational interview is a meeting between you and your prospective employer. The purpose and main goal is to help define your career options or allow you to research a company that you may be interested in working for. However, it’s very difficult from a job interview, and as a result, you should not expect anyone to make an offer to you for a job during this period. In this type of situation, you are the individual providing the interview to the prospective employer, not vice versa. These are interviews that can be between you and an employee or even someone who is responsible for the company itself. You should keep the interview brief; in person interviews are optional, and many informational interviews are handled over the phone.

You should prepare plenty of questions to help keep the conversation flowing. Ask questions about the business or company, but don’t forget to ask some of the more important aspects that factor into the employee experience. Do the employees there enjoy their work? What are their typical responsibilities? You should only ask open ended questions so that you can avoid getting any “yes” or “no” answers from the professional that you are interviewing.

If you are meeting in person, you should make a goal to dress and act as professionally as possible. Regardless of where you hold the interview or how, you should ensure that you make a good impression. The individual that you are interviewing may be able to provide additional leas or even some referrals that could help to lead towards a job. You should keep the interview fairly short. You want to limit the initial interview to around 15 to 30 minutes based on how your interview is going with the other person.

It’s find to schedule the interview with someone who has no hiring power. This will take off some of the pressure for the information to lead towards a hire or related information. Likewise, people who do not have hiring power generally know more about the day to day activities of someone working in those positions and they have more specific information that they can share with you. This is ideal if you want to learn the perspective of what it would be like to work there as an employee.

When you have finished the interview and received the information that you wanted, you should always thank the individual that you were interviewing. It’s a good idea to take notes if you are planning on reviewing the information later on in the future. After a week or so has passed, you should send out a thank you note to the interviewee. You may also want to end your interview with an action plan. This occurs when you ask the individual if you can contact them again in the future if you have any further questions or if you would like to schedule another interview later on.


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