What is an Informational Interview?

Also known as informational conversation, an Informational Interview is a formal meeting between a job seeker and the hiring manager. Wherein, the job seeker is imparted with suitable advice on their career, industry, and corporate culture of the company. Informational Interview is not just conducted for freshers but also for working professionals who are looking to explore their professional potential.

informational interview

So when you’re looking for a job, facing informational interviews can be really helpful. But wait!

What should you say when you actually come face-to-face with the interviewer? What questions will benefit you to take back most information? Which topics should be avoided? How should you request for more information when you need it?

Below we answer all your queries related to Information Interview..

According to John Lees, a UK-based career strategist and author of The Success Code, “You may think you already know all about a certain job role, but speaking to someone directly gives you the opportunity to test your assumptions.”

Prepare & practice beforehand

Informational interviews can be dubbed as “safe environment” for job seekers to ask as many questions to the hiring manager. However, that does not mean you bluntly step out without knowing what all you need to ask. So do your homework well about the industry beforehand. Have prior knowledge regarding the key players, ongoing trends, competitors, corporate culture, and so on.

Make sure you do not waste your interviewer’s time by asking basic Google-able questions. Instead, practice for more complicated yet informative questions which would rather impress your interviewer too.

For that, work on your listening and conversation skills. Practice to ask great questions and conveying convincing energy to the other party.

Short & sweet intro

Whether the interview is informational or a normal one, nervous candidates often end up either speaking too much or nothing. During an informational interview especially, the candidate is expected to speak have a short and sweet introduction of themselves.

Candidates should remember that it is not a place to go on with their “self” and other thoughts. Rather, it is a place to extract as much information and find out more stuff about certain concepts.

Hence, prepare a brief yet insightful introduction about yourself, which shouldn’t exceed more than 3 minutes.

Stay positive & cordial

You wouldn’t want your interviewer to carry bad or negative impression of you; post the informational interview. Try and be as much positive and cordial with your interviewer. You may establish a formally healthy bond by recounting how you were contacted by the interviewer.

Meanwhile, also throw hints about your eagerness to speak to more industry experts to give them clear idea of your information-gathering phase. However, elongating the conversation may kill the essence of the interview. Hence, make sure you wrap up suitably; on the lines of “I respect the criticality of your busy schedule. I’d rather love to seek more information, but if you need to go, I do understand.”

Be a critical thinker

Preparing for an informational interview requires you to put your “critical thinking” caps on. Therefore, draft well-informed and intelligent questions beforehand so that you don’t end up wasting the other person’s time. When you have a script ready with you, there are better chances for you to get the most out of an informational interview.

Inculcate an approach like an investigative journalist would have. Asking questions, counter questioning, and getting concepts clarified should be your fundamental objectives. However, make sure you do not go overboard and overshadow your interviewer. Stay away from sounding pushy or difficult. Rather, slowly unravel the curiosity and then listen.

Have your questions framed on the lines of:

  • How did you land up in this line of work?
  • What do you enjoy the most about your job?
  • What’s not so pleasing about it?
  • What upgrades are hitting the sector?
  • What kind of people manage to sustain in this industry?

Sign off with Gratitude

Right after the meeting, not only should you be thanking the person for their time but also expressing gratitude through a handwritten note.

Psychologically, a handwritten note would certainly be beneficial, as it will help you stay in the mind of the interviewer. Make sure you have a short and simple thank-you note, describing the how the interview was helpful and the way the person made it more informative to you.

If the interviewer is prompt enough to put up a good word for you, well and good, otherwise do not ask for it.

What did you learn?

Do’s

  • Enough research before an informational interview, to make yourself sound as a genuine candidate who’s very keen on switching to a new sector
  • Prepare a list of questions and their expected explanations to be sure of what information you’re exactly looking for
  • Thank your interviewer with a well handwritten note to be easily recalled by them

Don’ts

Step out clueless; practice informational interviews with your peer group and get used to asking great questions.

  • Feel down in case an informational interview turns bad on your job, company, or career path.
  • Look for favors; instead ask for advice on how to stay ahead in the ever competitive professional world.

So the next time you appear for such an interview, above points are surely going to help you!

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