An informational interview is simply a means of gathering information you need in order for you to choose which career path is right for you. It is not the same as a job interview because the job hunter is the one who conducts the informational interview.
An informational interview is a great idea to undertake if you are just starting out and are not really sure what job suits you. Another reason to conduct an informational interview is when you are thinking of changing your career path and as such do not know much yet about the industry you want to break into. It is also a means to expand your network and talk to all kinds of people in a specific business area.
By conducting an informational interview, you are in effect preparing yourself (1) for a better job, (2) for better chances in a new field, or (3) simply improving your current ‘market worth’ by networking and learning new things.
Following are some simple steps on how to conduct a successful informational interview.
* Ask yourself what particular job or industry you are interested in. On a separate list, identify your abilities, skills, values, and expertise and see if you think you are suited for the job you have in mind.
* Prepare for the informational interview and list all the details you want to obtain about your preferred industry.
* List the people you already know that are in the field you are interested in – friends, family, relatives, former professors, and others. Afterwards, work your way up to public relations officers, organizational directors, and others.
* Arrange the interview by phone, email, letter, or though someone you know who works in the same office as the one you want to interview.
* Prior the informational interviews, take the time to read up on the job or industry you are keen on so that you do not go into the interview with absolutely no knowledge of the topic. Make a list of questions you would like to ask.
* D-day is finally here. Conduct the interview with ease and grace. Dress nicely; be punctual, polite, and professional. Follow the questions you have made but also allow some spontaneous discussion between you and the person you’re interviewing.
* After the interview, record everything you have learned in a journal or blog. Don’t forget to send a thank you note within one week of the interview.
Informational Interview Do’s and Don’ts
Consider these tips when you’re planning to conduct an informational interview.
* DO ask for a face-to-face informational interview instead of phone interviews or email interviews because this is by far the best kind and most helpful.
* DO ask your interviewee to allot at least 30 minutes of his or her time for the interview.
* DO take the time to conduct some research about the company if you are absolutely clueless about the job or field you are interested in… even small bits of information will help.
* DO prepare to bring your resume just in case the interviewee asks you for a copy.
* DO be yourself because this is the only way to know which career path is right for you. Remember, you don’t need to impress the interviewee here. You’re there to ask for good career advice.
* DON’T get the false impression that an informational interview is a job interview. You’re merely preparing to enter or change a career path, or improve your prospects in your current field.
* DON’T forget to ask for referrals.
* DON’T ask for a job! It will turn off the person you are interviewing and will feel that you have deliberately misled him/her as to the real purpose of the interview.
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