8 Tips for a Successful Informational Interview

Posted by Rob Riggins

The holidays are a great time for connecting with targeted individuals for informational or networking interviews. Informational interviews are about learning, gathering information, and developing a relationship with the person you’re meeting with.

A 20-minute coffee or face-to-face meeting is your best bet. But if someone will only talk to you via phone, don’t turn down the opportunity. Some guidelines:

1. Be early if meeting in person. But not too early if you’re meeting at their office.

2. Offer to pay for the other person’s purchase.

3. Respect their limited time.

4. Do your homework ahead of time so you’re not asking basic questions. View their LinkedIn profile — Google their name and “LinkedIn” – to review their experience prior to your meeting. Also review their company web site to prepare yourself.

5. Your goal is to gather information about the company, job openings and any advice they may have for your search. But it’s also to understand their career goals and plans, because you might be able to help them.

6. Make sure you have developed your elevator speech so you can articulate what you’re looking for in a professional and succinct fashion.

7. Be sure to thank them and ask if they have a contact they could recommend you talk to.

8. Follow up after the meeting. If you committed to doing something such as providing a contact or forwarding an article, make sure you do so. And of course send a thank you note!

If you want to continue the relationship and it will be fruitful for both of you, make sure to keep in touch. If not, move on.

Some sample questions:

What is your typical day like?

What has your career path been?

What professional associations have you found to be the most beneficial?

What do you enjoy most about your work and what would you change if you could?

What are challenges facing your company or industry?

How do you stay current in your field?

What are the kinds of jobs that are in your company?

Any questions you have used in informational interviews that you found effective?


This entry was posted on Monday, December 03, 2012 12:22 pm

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