8 Steps to Use Informational Interviews in Your Job Search

Informational Interview
Now that you’re convinced that an informational interview will be useful for you, make sure you present yourself appropriately and get the best out of the interview you conduct.

Here are eight steps you should follow to optimally use informational interviews in your job search:

  1. Find Appropriate People to Interview
  2. Access your network and start asking around. If you’re looking to talk to someone in a certain field, make it known and ask who the best people would be to talk to. See if you can get a referral.

  3. Do Your Research
  4. Before you even think about contacting the potential interviewee, learn as much as you can about him or her. Read publications and newspaper articles, watch presentations and Google his or her name. Not only do you want to make sure that this person will be informative for you, but you also want to show that you’re truly interested in interviewing this person when it comes time to request an interview and also during the interview.

  5. Introduce Yourself
  6. Determine whether you should contact your potential interviewee in person, by phone or through email. If you’re going to ask for an interview in person or over the phone, memorize and practice presenting your elevator pitch. Make sure you mention who referred you and why you’re requesting an interview. Include a few tidbits about yourself and how you became interested in the field. Also include a few facts you’ve learned about your interviewee and state why you’re specifically interested in interviewing him or her.

  7. Request the Interview
  8. If you’re interviewee can’t meet in person, consider holding the informational interview over the phone or over Skype. Set a specific date and time, keeping the different time zones in mind. For face-to-face meetings, ask your interviewee to suggest his or her preferred place. Plan for the interview to last around half an hour.

  9. Prepare Questions
  10. Prepare a list of questions to ask your interviewee. You may want to ask about how he or she got started in the career, what qualities successful people in the field have and the best way to approach your job search in the field. It’s better to ask more specific questions because they show that you’re prepared and that you’re serious about the career. Make sure to show interest in your interviewee’s specific background and experiences, so he or she feels like a valuable resource in your job search.

  11. Be Professional
  12. Dress to impress and treat the informational interview like a formal meeting. Give a strong handshake and show confidence during the interview. First impressions are so important. Be prepared to pay for the meal or coffee if you had a face-to-face meeting.

  13. Send a Thank You Card
  14. Immediately after finishing the interview, prepare a thank you card and pop it in the mail. For more formal meetings, show your gratitude with a business letter. On the other hand, if you feel that your new contact would appreciate it, send a handwritten card instead. In your letter or card, mention specific parts of the conversation or tips that you found most useful. Also leave your contact information or business card in case your new contact wants to get in touch with you in the future.

  15. Plan for the Future
  16. In your notebook, note down everything you’ve learned and new steps you should take, especially if your contact suggested new leads that you should connect with. When you’ve found a job, make sure to contact all the people you conducted informational interviews with in the past to follow-up and let them know how their help has contributed to your career.

What other tips can you share for successful informational interviews?

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4 Comments

  1. Vincent Tufano
    Posted May 7, 2011 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    I’m going to refer a very close relative to read your articles. they’re just the thing to help him find his dream job.

  2. Samantha Bangayan
    Posted May 8, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Thank you so much, Vinny! Let me know if I can help your close relative out in any way! =)

  3. Posted May 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I swear you read my mind sometimes! This is a great post and a reminder of how useful this can be. I especially like the idea of sending thank you cards. It’s on my to-do list!

  4. Samantha Bangayan
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    Aw thanks so much, Val! =) I just started doing informational interviews a couple years ago and it’s made a world of a difference! =) Now that I think about it, I should take my own advice and try to do a few Skype ones with bloggers and online marketers I admire! =)

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