The Do’s and Don’ts of informational Interviews

A skill that is emphasized to all job seekers is mastering the art of networking. One of the recommended networking methods is the Informational Interviews. These are informal meetings whereby a job seeker meets an expert in their field of interest and this opportunity is used to gain as much information as possible on the industry and tips of getting a job in the field.

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A question you may ask would be, how do I get to schedule such a meeting in the first place and yet most of these experts are very busy?

You can use LinkedIn, other social media accounts or even people within your circles. Once you identify whom the person is, you need to do a thorough research on their past experience and accomplishments. You can also find articles or journals written by/about him or her, then find any similarities between both of you that can create a rapport in the conversation.

You need to then send them a concise email expressing your interest. For example, you could say;

“My name is_____________ .I am currently a ________graduate/_________ working at _____________.I would like to change my career/I would like to get into the __________ industry and therefore I would like to get your thoughts based on your career experience. Given that you have attained __________ I believe that you would be influential at this point of my career level.”

How do you ensure you get the best from such an informational interview?

Once you have managed to get an interview scheduled, remember that in this case, you are the interviewer and the expert is the interviewee. Prepare well in advance and dress to impress.

You, therefore, need to have done research and are well-prepared. Have a list of questions ready and carry a notebook and a pen.I am sure you wouldn’t like to have awkward moments in the conservation. Ask questions that are beneficial to your career growth such as how a typical day is for him/her, their highlights/fulfilling roles in their position as well as challenges. Questions such as their past positions and organizations which can be found online should be avoided.

Make sure you keep time. You should not only arrive on time for the interview but also make sure that you don’t take so much of his/her time, remember, their busy schedule and the need to make a good impression. It is advisable to have a watch with you so as to avoid checking your phone all the time. Make it precise and professional.

Write a thank you note after the meeting. Just like you need to write a thank you note after a job interview, you also need to express your gratitude for taking their valuable time to share their precious advice and thoughts with you. Send this email within 24 hours after your meeting and make sure you maintain contact after this by periodically updating him about your progress and the steps you took.

Now take that bold step and make contact with those people you look up to in your industry. You could also schedule an informational interview with a recruiter who is well informed on the job market dynamics.

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