Why You Should Be Going on Informational Interviews

Google defines “informational interviews” as a meeting with a potential job seeker that seeks advice on their career, industry and corporate culture of the potential future workplace. I’d sum it up as an interview to gain insight into a career or path. 

These meetings are a prime example of “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know." By doing so, you jump ahead of many of your peers because you’ve met someone who has been with the company and tends to be more insightful than reading Glassdoor reviews.

Take the initial steps to meet in person with someone who may be in the career field that you see yourself in and take a look at the recruiter. The recruiter is looked over at times because they don’t share the job title that you’re looking for. However, they know what it takes for you to work with the company and have a better outlook of the workplace culture. The recruiter is the hiring manager, the initial point of contact with the company. Once you’ve had an in-person meeting, applying for a job within the company is beneficial to you because the hiring manager will know more about you than what is on a piece of paper.

How to Make Contact

Linkedin is a perfect platform to meet and connect with professionals from all around. It’s basically the Facebook for your career. Also, if you don’t have a portfolio or another way to display your experiences or relative course work, Linkedin is perfect to show off your skills/abilities digitally. 

Start off by searching for a job title in the search box, then browse the companies and the people that work there. Plenty of acceptable candidates should populate in your location. The next step is narrowing down the list to who you actually want to get to know. Once a person has been chosen, connect with them and attach a note. That note will start the messaging thread on Linkedin, this is the first point of contact. For example, I usually start off with something like:

“ Hi x, I wanted to know if we could connect, I see that you work for X and was a past intern for them in (Brand Management). I wanted to know if I could have the opportunity to sit down with you over coffee for an informational interview as I enter my final year at VCU.”

 

I like to keep it short and straight to the point since I’m not an expert in the career field that I want to follow and I change it every six months. By keeping it short, I’m thanking them for the connection, requesting a meeting and telling them what year I am in school. This puts me in a position to give them a little insight about me but not too much, but they’ll know I will be in the job market soon.

Preparing for the actual Interview 

After they say “yes”

 Research the company. Know the founding values, the CEO and look at its history. Is it a start-up or a family-owned business? Companies love when you know your stuff. Even though we all want that paycheck, you will still be asked, “why do you want to work with us?" So knowing a little backstory on the company won’t hurt.

Before The Interview

I’d suggest buying a notebook for these meetings. This will allow you to take notes about the company and questions. Having questions will make it look like you're even more interested because you’ve invested time into learning more and the interviewee is usually happier when you have come prepared. Remember you did call this interview, so take control. 

Personally 

For the month of July, my goal was to go on an interview every week for the entire month. I succeeded, however, it is a lot easier said than done. Especially since I interned this summer too. I’m currently studying marketing. I searched strategist, thousands of companies and individuals populated from that search. Some I actually recognized from past career fairs. I probably messaged five people a week and out of the five, I received responses from two or three. I didn't let that discourage me because I knew I’d get my “yes” from someone. My monthly goal was a success and I made great connections while also practice my interview skills. 

 

Here are a couple of questions that I usually ask:

"After college, what was your first job and how did it impact your work ethic?"

"Did you intern"

"How would you describe the work/life balance of your company"

"Workplace culture?"

"Could you see yourself in the position that you’re in now when you were graduating college?"

 

I hope these tips and my story will inspire you to venture out and meet professionals in your area because you just might meet your dream job. If you have any feedback, feel free to comment. Also, feel free to connect with me on Linkedin. Just remember, you will always hear more no’s than yes’s.

 

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