An informational interview is a valuable opportunity to speak with an expert about a specific company or industry you are interested in exploring for your career. To set one up, you can reach out to your professional network or contact someone from the company you are interested on LinkedIn. It’s more informal than a real interview. Informational interviews offer the following benefits:
- Insight on the ins and outs of a company or industry you can’t find online
- An opportunity to find a possible mentor and expand your professional network
- A chance to brush up on your interview skills
- Get your foot in the door to the company or industry you interview with
To help you get the most out of this opportunity, here are some informational interview tips:
Just like with a real interview, you should do online research about the company and industry. At an informational interview, you want to find out the information that is hard to find online. Come with a list of well-rounded and thorough questions. Here are some examples:
- How did you get into this industry? What do you and don’t you like about the job?
- What skills and personality traits are important for this position?
- What is a typical day like at your job? Is it routine or does it change day-to-day?
- What kind of recent changes have taken place in this industry?
- Be careful when inquiring about salary
Unlike a real interview, an informational interview is an excellent chance to find out what the company or industry pays. But you must ask in the right way. Do research and mention a number to the interviewer to see if it’s correct, instead of asking straight out.
2) Keep it brief
Since the interviewer is making time in their schedule for you, another one of the important informational interview tips is to not to take up too much time. Ask beforehand how much time the interviewer has and keep an eye on the clock. If you still have more to talk about, ask if you can follow up via e-mail with some more questions.
3) Steer the conversation
Since you are the one that wants information, you need to be in control of the conversation. Try to showcase some of your skills and experience in the conversation but be careful not to talk too much about yourself. In case the interviewer asks about you, be prepared with an 30 or 60 second elevator pitch that sums up your skills and experience.
4) Take some notes
One of the informational interview tips that wouldn’t be recommended for a real interview is to take some notes. However, keep them limited since you want to engage with the interviewer.
5) Say thank you and stay in touch
Just like with a real interview, it’s important to follow up. Send a brief thank you note, expressing that you got what you needed out of the interview. Do not ask for a job or recommendation at this point. Down the line if a position opens at the company you can mention to the interviewer that you are applying and ask for a few resume or cover letter tips. Either way stay in touch, sending an industry-related article or video, mentioning an upcoming industry event or asking a question from time to time.
Author: Jessica Cody
Jessica Cody, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, has a background in online marketing and public relations. Currently, she works at VHMNetwork LLC in the role of Marketing Analyst. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. She is also an avid runner with a passion for the outdoors.