Informational interviews can be a valuable tool for job seekers, students and recent graduates. They’re not often discussed because other aspects of the job hunt seem to be more pressing in the eyes of a job seeker. But an informational interview should be an important strategy and part of your overall job search toolkit.
Here are five great things an informational interview can do for you:
1. Forge new relationships. At the very least, an informational interview will connect you with one professional in your field. Although they may not be able to help you right away by offering you a job, they’ll likely have other resources that would be great for you (contacts at other companies, tips and advice, etc.)
2. Find a mentor. Creating a new relationship could ultimately lead to landing a mentor for your career. Mentors give you someone to go to for many types of advice and feedback for your career.
3. Gain valuable insight into your field. Prepare for an informational interview by researching the person and organization. But also come with other burning questions that you want to know about your industry. Do you want to know if another certification could help you? How you should manage your online presence so employers are impressed? These are great questions to ask your informational interviewer.
4. Learn about your ideal organization(s). If you’ve landed an informational interview at one of your dream organizations, now is the time to check out the culture, employees and supervisors. Once there, assess these factors to see if you would be a good fit for the organization. If the interviewer has time, ask for a quick tour or overview of the organization.
5. Get advice from someone in your profession. Informational interviews are more relaxed than a traditional interview – which makes it a great resource for advice. Depending on the allotted time for the interview, now’s your time to ask for advice from someone in your field. They’ll likely have valuable insights for finding a job and be able to point you in the right direction.
Of course, after your informational interview, be sure to send a thank you note to the interviewer for taking time out of their day to meet with you! And if you follow their advice or meet with someone they refer you to, be sure to let them know the outcome via e-mail.
Have you ever been on an informational interview? What did you get out of the experience?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert and founder & president of Come Recommended, a career and workplace education and consulting firm specializing in young professionals. She is also the author of #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), national entry-level careers columnist for Examiner.com and blogs about career advice at HeatherHuhman.com. Follow her on Twitter at @heatherhuhman.