How Informational Interviews Can Improve Your Job Hunt

First and foremost when job hunting and doing interviews we should all know the difference between a job interview and an informational interview. When we apply for a position within a particular company we have a job interviews (we are all familiar with those types of interviews). Informational interviews though are unique in their own way. Informational interviews are usually brought to our attention during our third and fourth year of college by our guidance counselors. Informational interviews are designed to help students and a college graduates decide if a particular field or industry is the right one for them.

Informational interviews give us an opportunity to sit down with industry leaders and ask them how they ended up in the position they are. These interviews tend to be 20 to 30 minutes in length where you are the “driver”. This is the difference between a job interview and an informational interview. You are not trying to sell yourself or answer their questions under an HR microscope. They have given you a window of opportunity to question them and learn from their experiences.

Informational interviews are not only for future college grads and college students they are for anyone looking to break into an industry or new field of study. Of course one would question why years after you have graduated college would informational interviews be helpful. One example would be if you found yourself in a “dead-end” job where you are miserable most days. This type of job usually requires a great deal of work just to make it into work each day. Informational interviews can help you change careers and determine if the field of work you find yourself in is actually the right one for you. Informational interviews are also helpful if you find yourself without a job especially if you have been laid off. Of course we would prefer to spend our times doing actual job interviews that could actually land us a new job but informational interviews have their purpose.

As much as a job interview is necessary to get a job, informational interviews are just as important in determining where to apply for that new job in the first place. Informational interviews not only give you insight into a particular industry leaders role but they also give you the opportunity to ask the right questions which could enable you to find out what that particular industry leader is looking for in a job applicant. You have this 30 minute window of opportunity to find out exactly what skills, education and experience you need to convince a person like the one you are interviewing that you should land a similar role. So take the opportunity to sit down and ask the right questions. Just remember there is one thing you should never ask and that is for a job.

Informational interviews are not job interviews they are information gathering opportunities. You want to gather as many specific details as you can. One question I have come across in numerous examples is to ask the person you are interviewing for material suggestions. Ask them what blogs, twitter accounts and other various means of communication they follow in their industry and whether they recommend you do the same. I think this is an excellent question to ask each person you speak with to see the various options they present you with if any. Of course you always want to ask the obligatory questions such as “how they came to be in their position” and what they suggest you do to garner the needed experience and education the field may require. As the title suggests informational interviews are for you to get information from them so use your time wisely and make sure to have plenty of questions in reserve. Just keep in mind this is a dialogue and to make it a flowing conversation but professional. You want them to remember you and keep you in mind in case they have a job opening you would be perfect in the future.

 

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