What is an informational interview?: If you are a student preparing for a job interview or a professional looking for a career shift, you can schedule an informational interview to ace your job interview. In an informational interview, you can connect with experienced professionals via LinkedIn, work colleagues, or professors to get valuable information and effective advice from the professional/s. In such a meeting, you have the opportunity to discuss your career path and career goals to get useful tips from an experienced professional. In addition, you can use this connection to build a strong network in a new country, state, or city and leverage it in future jobs.
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Also Read: How to Network and Socialize for Success
What is an Informational Interview?
To begin with, let us learn ‘What is an Informational Interview’ and then proceed with its steps and benefits.
An informational interview refers to a meeting between a person seeking knowledge about a specific career, industry, or enterprise and a field expert. The primary goal of an informational interview is to get advice, gather insights, and acquire knowledge. Participants of this interview meet in an informal setting, usually over a cup of coffee or virtually.
During the meeting, the person seeking information poses questions that are focused on understanding the experiences, recommendations, and perspectives of the interviewee. Furthermore, the discussion might cover the work environment and industry trends of the field of interest of the interviewee.
During the interview, the interviewee gains valuable information, while the interviewer may enjoy the opportunity to share their experiences and insights. Therefore, it is a mutually beneficial exchange that can contribute to professional growth for both individuals.
Six Steps of Informational Interviewing
Now that we are familiar with the answer to the quintessential question here ‘What is an Informational Interview’, it is time to explore the steps involved in this process. Here are the basic 6 steps of informational interviewing:
Step 1: Explore online resources to investigate the career field, industry, or organization of interest.
Step 2: Use existing contacts, including family, friends, professors, colleagues, and former employers.
Step 3: Craft a brief self-introduction and outline your goals for the meeting. Develop open-ended questions to facilitate the discussion.
Step 4: Reach out to potential interviewees via email or LinkedIn, mentioning how you acquired their name. When you reach out to interviewees, make it clear that you only seek information and not a job.
Step 5: Also, ensure that you choose the best color for your interview outfit In addition, you must arrive on time if meeting in person, and bring a list of questions. You need to clearly state your objective, provide a brief overview of yourself, and guide the conversation while encouraging the interviewee to share their insights. Moreover, you must respect the agreed-upon timeframe, express gratitude, and ask if you can contact them in the future.
Step 6: Finally, you should maintain detailed records of what you learned and your next steps. It is advisable to send a thank-you note within 1-2 days. The note must have a formal tone. You should keep in touch with the interviewee and update the concerned person on your progress and outcomes based on their advice. These connections eventually become a valuable part of your network.
How to Make the Most Out of an Informational Interview?
After dealing with ‘What is an Informational Interview’ and the steps of informational interviewing, let us explore its advantages. Here are some of the effective ways in which you can make the most out of an informational interview:
1. Get Valuable Information
You can begin by learning valuable insights from industry experts, students, or professionals in a specific field or organization. Also, you must discover whether a job aligns with your goals or personal interests.
2. Create a Strong Network of Contacts
Furthermore, you can network with people in an informal setting, such as a Zoom call or over a cup of tea or coffee. Conversations and exchange of ideas in informal settings will help you foster connections you might not typically make.
3. Improve Interview Skills
In addition, with informational interviews, you have the opportunity to develop and refine your ability to ace an interview. In these interviews, you learn to express yourself and ask questions in a low-pressure environment. Moreover, these interviews make you gain confidence for formal job interviews.
4. Prepares You for Future Opportunities
On top of that, connections made during informational interviews enable you to forge relationships that may conclude in future collaborations or job openings. Also, these interviews are opportunities to establish connections that contribute to building a community in a new city or company.
Ans: An informational interview is a casual discussion, typically lasting 20-30 minutes, with an individual employed in a field you find intriguing. It differs from a job interview and aims to gather insights rather than identify job opportunities.
Ans: You can start an informational interview by expressing interest in the experienced person’s career. Then you can ask a list of thoughtful questions related to the industry of your interest. Then, you must actively listen to the interviewee’s knowledge and experience about the field without seeking a job.
Ans: Key benefits of an international interview are:
1. Get valuable information
2. Create a strong network of contacts
3. Improve interview skills
4. Prepares you for Future Opportunities
Stay in tune with Leverage Edu’s career counselling page for interview preparation tips.