It’s no secret that networking is one of the cornerstones of a successful career and job search, and one of the most successful networking tools is the famed informational interview. An informational interview is a discussion focused on learning — about a role, an industry, a person’s career, and so much more. But when you’re 40+ applications and 12 “real” interviews deep into your job search, the thought of scheduling an interview just for the sake of having a chat might seem like the last thing you want to do. You’re already exhausted from “telling people about yourself” so many times – so if the person on the other side of the table isn’t offering you a job, then why bother?
Why have an informational interview?
Informational interviews give you an inside look at a company or a career path you’re considering without the high-stakes pressure of being in a real job interview. Instead of a recruiter doing a deep dive into your resume, you’ll have the opportunity to ask about the other person’s career path, current role, and advice for your job search process. The goal shouldn’t be getting them to refer you to an HR rep, but rather for you to learn from their successes (and possibly mistakes).
Who should you ask for an informational interview?
If you’re a job seeker, you probably instinctively think you should have informational interviews with recruiters, hiring managers, and executives, but that can actually often be a losing strategy. These people are often inundated with meeting requests and might not have time to meet you for coffee. Instead, try to set meeting up with “peer-level” contacts, people who could either be your immediate coworkers or direct managers. These people were probably in the same position as you not too long ago, so they’ll also be able to give you more insider tips and relevant advice.
What should you ask in an informational interview?
Making the most of an informational interview involves more than sitting down at the coffee counter, staring nervously at your latte, and eventually mumbling, “So…tell me about what you do.” Here’s what to ask to get the max out of your meeting:
- What attracted you to this career path?
- What previous professional experiences have helped you most in this role?
- What’s something you wish somebody told you before going into this field?
- What do you find most rewarding about your job?
- How would you describe somebody who excels in this field?
- What helped you prepare for your current role?
Franklin Buchanan, a Certified Professional Career Coach, can help you land the perfect job no matter what phase of your career you’re in. Franklin and Post Up Careers can help you navigate every stage of the job search process, from initial goal-setting and those first informational interviews, to securing the job and salary negotiations. Contact us here to schedule a career coaching appointment.