Informational interviews are a great way to learn more about a company and/or industry while promoting your personal brand. Positioning yourself as a job seeker who simply wants to learn more about a career path is a smart way to enter fall recruiting season. As such, I wanted to share five tips I give my own students when conducting these types of interviews.
- The point of an informational interview is not to ask for a job; rather you are gaining an insider’s perspective on a specific career path. While you are promoting your brand by opening up a dialogue with this professional, you are not doing a hard sell of yourself.
- Although you initiated the informational interview, the interviewee is doing a favor by speaking with you about his/her current position. Work with their schedule and preferred method of communication.
- Do your homework. Make sure that you have done research on the professional and company they work for. It will better inform the types of questions you ask and will allow you to give smart responses to any of the professional’s questions.
- Follow the professional’s lead re: next steps. If they would like to keep the door open and continue the discussion they will tell you.
- Follow-up. Not only have you learned more about a potential career path, but you have also added a contact to your professional network. Make sure you thank the person for their time and if they suggested that you look into a specific resource and/or connect with another person, let them know how it went.
Informational interviews are simply another way to network. As college students, professionals (especially alumni) want to share their expertise and experience with you. Mine through your alumni database today to find someone in a position you one day aspire to hold–you will be amazed at how much you learn and (sometimes) how many doors are opened as a result of this communication. Good luck!
Heather currently serves as the Associate Director of Student Services for the Undergraduate Career Services Office in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. In her role, Heather guides students throughout their career development, lectures on career-related topics and personal branding, presents career workshops for students, supervises a team of career coaches, and develops/manages the social media efforts for her office. Before making the switch to Student Affairs, Heather worked in Marketing, Sales, and Promotion within the Music & Entertainment industry. Originally from New Jersey, Heather attended Indiana University for her undergraduate degree and The Ohio State University for her graduate studies. You can connect with Heather on Twitter and LinkedIn.