Informational interviews used correctly can lead to many opportunities, a valuable strategy for freshers and working professionals to gain real-time occupational information that is not often available from other sources.
Informational Interviews can be used to gather information about an industry, field, company, or specific job or career path. It serves as a great source to retrieve hidden and crucial career-related information.
Importance of Informational Interview:
For freshers, it gives insight into a particular industry, company work culture, helps them understand the actual process, job responsibilities, career prospects, and path. This career transparency enables them to prepare for their first job.
For working professionals, Informational interviews act as an excellent facilitator in the job search process, building networks and help them to tap into the hidden job market.
Two ways to approach:
Start with your friends and family, alumni from college and school, ex-colleagues; you will get a better response from your close network to set up an interview.
Send mail or message via LinkedIn to alumni from college, professionals from a similar field. This is a less common route, but when done right, it will be an effective strategy.
How to construct the mail for Informational Interview?
- Use a clear and concise approach, don’t start your mail frantically. Research about the company, industry, and the person (professionally) you are approaching for the interview, frame your mail inculcating your research.
- Focus on the subject line, write a precise subject line that grabs the reader’s attention. Ex: ‘Informational Interview Request’,
- Introduce yourself, mention from where you know this person, similarities, or any prior acquaintance. If you are contacting a professional who is unknown to you, a compliment about their previous career achievements will grab their attention. If you are messaging in LinkedIn, then mention you found their recent post activities helpful or shared connections.
- Do remember this is not an interview to request a job, when crafting the mail, be mindful of not asking for a job. This will kill the purpose of the Informational interview, decrease your reliability and waste your valued network.
- Request for 15-20 minutes of their time for the interview, and notify you are flexible with your timings based on their availability.
- End the email by thanking them and looking forward to hearing from them.
How to conduct Informational Interview:
- Be prepared with the questions that you want to ask, frame the questions that will get you the desired answers about your job, career path, company, etc.
- Be punctual and arrive at the set venue earlier, dress formally and conduct yourself professionally. If the interview is on phone be punctual and professional.
- Don’t deviate from the objective of the interview, be mindful and considerate of this person’s time, keep the conversation brief and to point. Keep your elevator pitch ready.
- At the end of the interview, ensure you thank this person for their time.
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