Informational interviewing is a highly effective form of networking, and involves you, the job seeker, asking for information about a particular job, company, or industry. When you are considering entering a particular career field, you might not have a wide range of contacts in the industry yet. By reaching out and asking for an informational interview, you are learning about a particular industry and career path, and what it takes to succeed.
Who uses informational interviewing?
Everyone! Recent graduates will find informational interviewing an effective tool for making connections and learning what they like about certain careers and companies. Career changers or experienced alums who are looking for new jobs will benefit, as they can essentially try out a new industry or company.
What will I learn?
By talking with someone who is in the industry or job you are interested you will:
- Gain insight into how the industry/company/job works
- Determine what skills might be needed
- Make new contacts
- Potentially learn about unadvertised job opportunities
- Find out if the industry/company/job is a good fit for you
How do I get an informational interview?
First, target a company or individual. Create a list of questions that you would like to have answered, and research the company and industry as much as possible. View some informational interviewing questions.
Next, start reaching out. Ask friends and family members if they know someone in the industry, or contact professors, former classmates and organization members. Use your Bucknell resources – connect using the Alumni Directory, Career Advice Volunteer Search, and the Bucknell Alumni LinkedIn group.
When you contact the individual, start with a brief introduction about yourself and explain why you are writing. It is helpful to include your interest or experience in the person’s field and organization. Explain that you would like information and advice, and close by asking for a phone or in-person meeting, if they have the time and interest.
Key thing to remember: never ask for a job.
Informational interviewing is about gaining information and career advice. If you try to ask for a job, your contact might feel uncomfortable or the employer might feel misled. If you find out about a job opportunity during the informational interview, you can follow up the next day to express your interest. If a job is not available, it is possible that the contact you interviewed has connections that might be able to help you.
Say thank you.
Don’t forget to write a thank you note a day or two after you interview! Need help writing a professional note? Check out Resumes & More for tips and tricks.
Summarized from Quintessential Careers. Click here for a complete tutorial.