There is one thing I have not written about or experienced and that would be informational interviews. My friend Sai and I have been keeping in touch, I have mentioned her in a number of my posts, and she suggested that she share her experience via my blog. I hope you enjoy the following tips, I know I did!
(I look forward to others sharing their experience and advice and would be thrilled to add your posts to my “Guest Posts” section!)
The Informational Interview
The informational interviews are a great way to gain insight into your industry and network. These interviews have been especially helpful for me as I’m in a niche industry and well, the more people you know the better your chances are of finding a job! Plus, I’ve received some great book recommendations and met some great people along the way!
Over the past few months I’ve conducted about 20 interviews and written e-mails to 50 people who are in the industry. Since sharing is caring, here are my tips on how to conduct a great informational interview.
- Don’t Be Afraid: It’s hard to reach out to someone you don’t know, but odds are they are happy to help! Most people I’ve spoken with love talking about their experience and helping out someone new to the industry. So, don’t be afraid, shoot them an e-mail and ask them for an informational interview.
- This is NOT a job interview: This is probably the most important point to remember. While you should keep your best face forward and conduct your interview in a business like manner, remember this is NOT a job interview. Under no circumstances should you ask for a job, unless your interviewee brings it up.
- Be Organized: I tend to contact a lot of people, so I have an Excel spreadsheet of who I’ve contacted, the method in which I’ve contacted them and if they’ve responded back. Once you’ve scheduled an interview, follow up with that person a day before confirming your appointment and provide them with a brief agenda of the questions you’d like to cover during the interview. This is a great way to demonstrate that you’re an organized individual and gives them an opportunity to prep for your interview. Finally, once your call is finished, send them a thank you note and add them to your contact list on LinkedIn.
- Who else do you know? At the end of your informational interview, always ask, “Do you have someone you could recommend to me who may provide additional insights into this industry?” This question is KEY because it helps you to expand your network. If possible, see if this person will introduce you to the new contact themselves via e-mail as this helps to establish ties between the two contacts.
- Don’t Give Up: I’ve had a lot of people not write back to me after I’ve contacted them and that’s OK! A lot of people are wary about giving informational interviews or simply do not have time. Just keep on going through your LinkedIn groups and try to find people who are in the industries you want to be in. Its hard work, in fact it’s a full time job, but it will pay off in the end.
The pay off to the informational interview is three-fold. You gain insight into your industry without having to work there, make contacts who will probably keep you in mind if a position should pop up and you practice your interviewing skills. Overall, informational interviews have provided me with a lot of insight into my industry and helped me make some useful contacts. I highly recommend it for all of you out there looking to rejuvenate your job search process!
About the author: Sailaja N. Joshi is a Freelance Consumer Anthropologist for hire and is currently living in Cambridge, MA. When not researching, she can be found blogging regularly at Le Sigh, cooking and teaching yoga.
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