Think about it: you are putting yourself “face-to-face” with someone in the same career field of interest as you. This person might have the power to hire you, or at least put you in touch with someone in the company with the authority to do so. Your ability to impress them with your qualifications and professionalism is key that will grant you a job offer. Keen to master this ability? Make sure you understand the right way to do an informational interview.
This article is a part of our previous Informational Interview Tips: Why and who to interview.
How to do an informational interview
Informational interviews can be scheduled by email, letter or a phone call. It can also be scheduled in person, when the opportunity presents itself. When contacting a professional about an informational interview, you should be concise and professional. The following can serve as a guide in making the contact:
- Briefly introduce yourself. “My name is (insert name). I’m an MBA candidate at Clarkson University, and I’ve been conducting a great deal of research about marketing careers. You’re working in a career that, based on my research, I’ve chosen to explore further.”
- State why you are contacting them. “A professor of mine, (insert name), thought you’d be a great person to talk to and he/she strongly encouraged me to reach out to you.”
- Touch briefly upon your interest in this field. “I’ve done some serious research and reflection on the things I like to do, and those things that I do well. Based on this, as well as on some initial career exploration, this career intrigues me. But I could really benefit from information, advice and suggestions from somebody like you to help clarify my career goals.”
- Ask for action. “I would welcome the opportunity to conduct an informational interview to find out more about what you do. I would only need about 20 to 30 minutes of your time, and am willing to schedule this at your convenience. When would be a good time for you?”
- Close the conversation. “So we’ll be meeting on (insert day and time) at (insert location). Thanks so much for your time and consideration.”
- Remember to exchange contact information, just in case you need to reach one another in an emergency.
Remember, just like a job interview, preparation is absolutely essential. To adequately prepare, consider the following:
- Research the company or organization. At a minimum, go to their website and company profile on LinkedIn. Request a copy of their most recent annual report and any other relevant company literature.
- Research the professional. Bios on the company website and LinkedIn profiles can be great sources of information. Also, “Google” the professional’s name on the Internet to see what other information you can find out about them.
- Prepare a list of questions you’d like to ask during the interview.
- Plan your attire and “dress for success.” Dress for the informational interview as you would for a job interview.
- Pack emergency-repair items, such as a small sewing kit, spot-remover wipes, tissues, comb and brush, hairspray, makeup for touch ups, breath mints and an umbrella in case you need it.
- Make sure you have the contact information of the person you’re interviewing – including name, title, phone number and email address.
- Know who you’re interviewing and how to contact them in case of an emergency.
- Print two or more copies of your professional and critiqued resume on a heavier stock resume paper. You want to have one for yourself and one for the person you’re interviewing. Although this is not a job interview, the informational interview is a great venue for a professional to provide feedback about your qualifications.
- Have a professional padfolio (with a fresh pad of paper) and several pens for taking notes. Remember, you are a “reporter” seeking relevant information and you want to capture it accurately.
- Take a practice run to the location of the interview. Know how to get there and how long it takes, and be familiar with alternate routes in case of accidents or detours. Get a good night’s sleep the night before the interview. It will help you be at your best. Remember the power of your non-verbal cues, including eye contact, posture, and nervous habits.
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