The Informational Interview
Finding The Perfect Job For You
By: Karin Eldor
Monster Contributing Writer
Monster Contributing Writer
"All the world's a stage and we are merely players…” – Shakespeare
When it comes to informational interviews, this couldn’t be more true.
Informational interviews are an integral part of the job search and most importantly, finding the perfect job for you. Whether you’re at the start of your hunt or contemplating a career change, this is a golden opportunity to shine when it comes to your next actual job interview.
The informational interview is your chance to sit down with someone in the workforce, with the understanding that the candidate is not necessarily applying for a job at the company. It’s more about a dialogue, a learning experience, and like in the quote above, practice makes perfect.
Check out how to land informational interviews and how to make them work for you.
1) Reach out
Take initiative when it comes to landing an informational interview.
Prepare a shortlist of all the companies you would like to hear more about. Many companies are open to maintaining their positive reputations by encouraging meeting with job-searching candidates, even if there is no specific job opening at the time of the interview.
One way to start is by contacting the HR department via email or phone, specifying which department you are interested in, and letting them know that you would love to meet with someone for an informational interview. Be very specific about the amount of time you would need (the shorter, the better).
You can even use social media to your advantage here and reach out to contacts you may have made in the past, or at a career fair, for example.
Tip: When at career fairs, make sure to keep notes along with every business card and corporate handout you receive – this can come in handy when trying to set up an informational interview with one of the reps who was present.
2) Just say “yes”
On the flipside, if you are contacted by any company under the premise of an informational interview (or any interview at all, for that matter), never turn it down; no matter how uninterested you are in the job or the company. To reference the quote at the start of the article, every interview you have is considered a dress rehearsal for other job interviews you are incredibly interested in. When it comes to interviews, practice makes perfect!
Like any job interview, make sure to come prepared with a set of questions and make sure to do your research on the industry, the company, and the person you are interviewing with (if possible and applicable).
Dress professionally as you would for any job interview and make sure to be on time. If you are the one who requested the informational interview, keep it brief and respect the interviewee’s time.
4) Ask questions
The premise of the interview is to get information – and that means mostly for you. Ask questions about the position, the company, the industry, and take notes. It goes without saying, but making a good impression is key, even if there is no specific position open for you at the time. The right questions can also open up opportunities you might not have previously thought of before. For example, you might learn about an internship opportunity at the company that can help you get your foot in the door, or it might open your eyes to a new skill you should learn in order to make yourself more marketable in that specific industry.
5) Follow up
Making a great impression is important before, during and after the informational interview. Make sure to send a “thank you” email or letter to the person you met with, thanking them for their time – especially if you initiated the interview. The goal is to remain top of mind when a job does open up at the company, and who knows, the person you met with might even refer you to a job in a different department!
So in the play we call “your professional life,” remember that every interview you have -- informational or not -- can be considered great practice for your dream role.
Give the best performance you can and the informational interview might just lead to the ultimate career.