Informational interviews are there to fill information gaps that you can't easily identify through online research. Notice how I just talked about "filling gaps in your research". Do your research! If you don’t then you risk coming across as lazy. A really busy person might even tell you outright that "you're wasting their time".

Not preparing for your informational interview could bring BAD KARMA!
If you ask any question like "what does your company do?", I promise you. I will find the café that you're meeting in. I will walk up to your table. And I will personally stir two heaped teaspoons of salt into your coffee. And then I will measure two level tablespoons of vinegar and tip them onto your up cake. I will find you. I will make you drink your coffee. I will make you eat your cup cake. I promise I will find you. I am very good at research!

To prepare for an information interview, you need to do the following … 

Do some research first

Research the business: look at its website, annual report if possible, news items, LinkedIn, etc.
Research the person you'll be interviewing: Look at their LinkedIn profile, google search them, etc.

Make a list of questions

Interviews can happen at short notice so compile your questions before you make your interview request. Your questions should aim to fill gaps in your knowledge and clarify things that you've come across in your research.

If you're not sure what to ask, google information interview [profession] to fertilize your thoughts. Be sure to ask open questions. They're questions that can't be answered with a simple yes or no. List your questions with the most important first and the least important last. That way when your 20 minutes is up, you'll have at least got through your most important questions. Common questions might be.…

Questions about you 

 Based on what you know about me, what do you see as my weaknesses?

Questions about the role

What are the personal and professional attributes of a bad [role]
What are the personal and professional attributes of a good [role]
What skills do graduates in your area lack when they come to you?
What tasks I should I be expecting to do as a [role].

Strategic questions

What professional associations do you recommend?
What's changing in the sector?
Porttitor rhoncus purus.

Questions about the workplace

What software do you use?
What types of problems do you deal with?

Questions about the person you're interviewing

 If you had your time over again, would you do your career the same way? If not what would you do different?
What didn't you know when you started out that you wish some would have told you?
What do / don’t you like about your job?
What was your journey to becoming a [profession]?

Unless you're getting bad vibes, always finish by asking can you recommend anyone else I should talk to?

Request an interview

Send an invitation via email or LinkedIn. A local coffee house close to their work is a good choice of venue, but otherwise at their office (offer to bring them a coffee), telephone, or video. Be sure to tell them that you value their time and would take no more than 20 minutes for a phone interview or ½ hour for a chat in a cafe. That’s a chunk of time that most people are happy to give away. If you're not sure how to go about requesting an interview, see this link for an email script, or this link for a telephone script.

Tell them why you want to meet with them. Perhaps you've seen them present somewhere, or in a YouTube video, met them briefly at an event, their LinkedIn profile looked interesting, or someone suggested you should meet. 

Email a meeting confirmation

A busy person is giving you time. Respect that. Confirm your meeting time and place by email. Your email footer should have a link to your LinkedIn profile. That will help them understand more about you if they choose to click it.

Click here for guidance on how to conduct an informational interview.

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