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What is an informational interview? You conduct them to gather information about your possible career. They’re not a ploy to pitch yourself!


So, what is an informational interview? Let’s start with a big, fat, here’s what it’s not! An informational interview is not a ploy to meet with someone so you can ask them for a job. That’s akin to producing an engagement ring half way through a first date. It’s trickery that will backfire on you and will likely offend the person you’re interviewing.

Opportunities do sometimes fall out of an informational interview, but these should be initiated by the person you’re interviewing. Not you!

What is an informational interview?

An informational interview is just that. It’s an interview to gather information about your possible career. “Ideally” you should try to interview someone who would be your immediate boss in your entry level job. They’re what job seeking books call a hiring manager. They’re more likely to be in touch with the job’s day-to-day job requirements. You should aim to do at least five, and even up to fifteen informational interviews. That will ensure that you’re not relying on a small number of opinions, some of which might be outliers.

Six reasons why you should do informational interviews

Done correctly, informational interviews should be nothing more than a no-pressure information gathering exercise. Here’s 6 reasons why you should do them…

  1. Colleges and universities tend to teach general domain knowledge rather than specific job skills. Because there are as many nuances to workplaces as there are employers, your degree is unlikely to have prepared you to be useful to an employer from the day you start a new job. That leads me to the next point.
  2. You get to discover expertise gaps that you need to fill between what you learned in college and what you need to know to be a useful employee. Addressing those gaps is what will make you a better job candidate.
  3. You get to find out what it’s like to work in the job you’re thinking of doing.
  4. They’re an excuse to make an impression on a potential employer.
  5. They’re a no-pressure way to add somebody new to your network, and perhaps even your cheer-squad.
  6. They’re an opportunity to learn how to behave in an interview situation. You have nothing to lose. It’s not like you’re going to miss out on a job…you weren’t in the running for one anyhow. The worst that can happen is that you’ll get better at talking to people, and you’ll learn more about your industry.

Click here to find out how to prepare for your informational interview

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