What Is an Informational Interview and How Do You Set One Up?

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Informational interviews have been gaining popularity lately. If you have been wanting to find out more about a particular job title or industry, here is how to go about it.

The best time to set up an informational interview is when you are considering starting your own business or you want to enter a new career field. It is helpful to find out a little more about the job, the opportunities in the area and have someone who can answer the many questions you probably have.

An informational interview is also a great way to get to know someone in the field you're interested in and learn more than you ever could in the classroom. The interview can help you find out all of the little things about the business you are interested in.

How to set up an information interview:

  • Asking your professional network if they have friends in that particular field is the best way to begin. Social networking sites like LinkedIn or even contacting your local Chamber of Commerce are also good ideas. You will probably want to do a bit of research to find out some information about them if you weren't referred to the business by a friend or colleague. You want to select someone who is successful in the field and who will have valuable information for you.

  • Second, set up a call. Be clear that you are looking for advice, not a job, and introduce yourself to let them know who referred you to them. Tell them that you are interested in finding out more about the industry or starting a business in the field. Approximately 15-30 min is all that is needed. Just be sure that you make it clear that you aren't meeting with them in hopes of getting a job and most of the time, you will find that the person will be flattered and willing to make time for you

In preparing for this type of interview, it is important to treat it in a similar way as you would a job interview. This means:

  • Because this person may be able to provide you with leads and assistance later on, try to make a good impression,

  • Dress and act professionally.

  • If you have one, bring along a copy of your resume and a portfolio. They may be able to look over it and offer some suggestions.

  • Since their time is valuable, keep it short.

  • Ask for other leads they may know willing to interview with.

  • Give them a business card with you contact information and social media links

  • See if they would be willing to schedule a follow up interview in case there are more questions you would like to ask.

  • Thank them for their time and ALWAYS follow up with a thank you note.

Hopefully after the interview, they will keep you in mind if they hear about a job opening or other opportunity that might be right for you. They can also be an invaluable member of your social network in addition to answering all of your questions.

Have you ever went to an informational interview? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comment section.

By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for CollegeJobBankBlog. Along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.


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