Getting the Best Info from your Informational Interview

As a soon-to-be college graduate, (eek!) the job search is in full-force and I have my first informational interview today. While it could seem self-explanatory, it is important to have a focus so you create a professional image for yourself while getting valuable information about a company/position. Even if they currently don’t have any jobs available, show genuine interest and remain engaged so that they may consider you in the future if something does open up. Below I have outlined some tips that have helped me get a well-rounded experience in an informational interview:

  • Come prepared. You don’t want to waste the person’s precious time. Even if you have to write them down in your portfolio, have some questions ready so that the conversation isn’t lacking and you’re getting the feedback you want.
  • Keep it quick. Continuing to respect the employee answering your questions, don’t let the session go longer than 30-45 minutes. They will appreciate you coming in, but you don’t want to overstay your welcome or keep them from their work. Sometimes the most efficient way for them could be a phone interview, so make sure you allow them to have that option. 
  • Be honest. You have obviously done some research on the company if you are genuinely interested in them, so think outside the box and ask what you really want to know. Questions such as, “What does a daily day of work look like for you?”, “What are your favorite/least favorite things about the job?” and “What is the biggest challenge working here?”, etc. are good starting points. 
  • Do NOT come out and ask for it! If they think you would be a good fit for a position there, they will ask for your resume. Asking for a job can make the interview feel awkward and the value can be lost if they are distracted by your inquiry. 
  • Follow up. This is a crucial step after your informational interview. Many people disregard thank you notes as unnecessary, but it can really set you a part if they receive a handwritten note in a reasonable time frame after the interview. Try to avoid an email thank you, it is less personable and can be deleted in the time it would even take them to open an envelope to a note. 

Have you had any informational interviews? What worked/didn’t work?

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