Typical job interviews are started by recruiters asking a series of questions to see job seeker’s qualification. But in an informational interview, it will be the other way round. In an informational interview, job seekers will be the one who asks questions to obtain information of their preferred employers and/or job positions.
An informational interview is an opportunity to start a conversation with someone who works at a department that you’re interested in, or someone on your desired career path. Experts often refer it to ‘relationship building’ because this implies making authentic connections with people who could become friends, mentors, or maybe future colleagues.
Benefits of informational interviews
Informational interviewing is effective for a college student looking to start their career. But it can be just as effective for mature adults who are in some form of career transition. Considering its major benefits (career exploration and networking), informational interviewing is designed for professionals at any career stage. Here are some other benefits:
- Obtain a great deal of information about your career field and the skills needed to do that job effectively.
- Gain a perspective of work that goes beyond the limitations of job titles, allowing you to see not only what skills are required for the job but also how you might fit into that work setting. Thus, you have greater flexibility in planning options.
- Get the opportunity to make personal contacts among management-level personnel.
- Gain insight into the hidden job market (employment opportunities that are not advertised).
- Become aware of the needs of the department and the realities of employment. First-hand and current information allows you to learn what happens on the job beyond the understanding provided through research.
- This exposure not only provides personal understanding but it could also result in your becoming a more impressive job candidate in the future.
- Informational meetings are comparatively low-stress because you are the interviewer. This is a great opportunity for you to gain confidence in talking with people while learning what you need to know.
- Because you are only asking for information, you are in control of the meeting; you decide which questions to ask. Later, evaluate the acquired information for personal use.
- It is an opportunity to learn whether you might fit into a particular organisation.
- You can explore careers with someone who is actually performing the work you might want to do, thus allowing you to clarify your career goals.
- You can obtain valuable feedback on your resume (and qualification in general), and help you determine what you need to do to make yourself more marketable for the career in question.
Who to interview?
Some tips for locating with whom to conduct informational interviews are as follows:
- Start with your current network, people you know personally.
- Search for professionals on LinkedIn. It is one of the largest databases of professionals in the world.
- Tap into professional and industry associations in your field of interest. They are great sources of career information – and contacts.
- Contact the alumni development office at your previous university, and colleges you have graduated from. They might be able to connect with alumni working in your field of interest.
- Identify the target companies you’d like to work for. Call them and ask for the names of individuals who occupy the careers of interest to you. Then, contact that person to request an informational interview. You can even connect to them on LinkedIn and use these connections to leverage an introduction.
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