Informational Interviews are the ultimate Networking tool; and a great way of helping you decide on and refine a career path. The phrase was invented by Richard Nelson Bolles in his bestselling career guide “What colour is your parachute?” Today I am going to share some tips on how to go about Informational Interviews and how they should flow.
How they can help you
If you are a job hunter or even a career changer, it is a way for you to get really targeted information and insight into a particular career path, the skills and experience which will position you well, an opportunity to make personal contacts and expand your professional network and gain professional visibility. In the long run, it is a way to access the hidden job market, and a low stress way of building confidence as you control the interview.
How to get started
To start, reach out to your network: LinkedIn, Twitter, family friends- find out who they know and who they are connected with. Research organisations. Make a list of people you’d like to talk to about the next move in your career, people you admire in your field or target field and people at your target company, anyone who may be able to help you, or knows someone who can help, should go on your list. when you contact them, make sure it is short, sweet and to the point to show you respect their time.
Do not get disheartened by Nos, people generally do like to talk about themselves and you will meet someone who wants to pay things forward.
Have a strategy
If you commit to doing this on a regular basis, you can walk away with as lots of targeted and useful information as well as some potential key industry connections. Be committed to holding informational interviews on a fairly regular basis. Stick to the amount of time that you mentioned when setting up the informational interview ; you can always set up another meeting or use additional questions as a reason to stay in touch and keep the relationship warm. Do not offer to send them our CV unless they ask to see it.
Preparation is everything
It is essential to prepare in advance; research the company and the person you are interviewing to focus your questions. This is your opportunity to get real insider insight into company, industry and what it takes to succeed in and so make a fantastic first impression by being well prepared.
Ask questions about the company, show you have done your homework by know their mission statement, vision for their company, check any press releases and news related to the organisation. Google the CEO's name with the word "interview" to see how they have been promoting their company.
This is your opportunity to ask questions to a person working in your target field so ask them about their personal career journey
Most of these will be online which means you are not limited by geography - only by your own imagination. Prepare as you would if you were having an actual online interview; make sure tech works, there are no distractions around you or behind you. Dress to impress even online, if you impress them enough with your questions and the way you present yourself, they may offer you referrals.
How long should they be?
The informational interview should not usually last more than 20-30 minutes. Respect the person’s time, they are your guest. Remember that it is NOT a job interview and you should not ask for a job- you are asking for advice, for the benefit of that person’s experience and expertise.
If this were in person, you would pay for the coffee you would be enjoying together.
Have an Elevator Pitch and finish strong
If the person you are talking to wants to know about you, have a polished concise elevator pitch that really showcases your personal brand and accomplishments.
Finish strong- You can ask your contact if they can refer you on to other contacts in their network- is there someone else they think you should talk to?
Do not forget to say thank you and follow up. Connect with them on LinkedIn. It may be hard at first to push yourself out of your comfort zone talking to people you don’t know but you are investing in your future career and you’ll be making connections that ultimately will help your career and increase your professional confidence.
Remember, Knowledge is Power. If you would like to find out more about how I could help you build your career capital, get in touch to arrange a chat.