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How an Informational Interview Can Jumpstart Your Career

by Joseph Freemont, Career Ambassador Oct 12, 2020

Interviews. The pre-requisite of almost any job/position you will obtain in your career.

These interactions between employer and candidate can take place through many different formats such as in-person, phone, zoom, lunch, and more. But it is not only the format of the interview that is important—the reason for the interview determines what is said, how it’s said, and why. Is it for an internship? A job? To find out more about an industry you are interested in? Today’s blog is all about Informational Interviews, which can answer all of these questions with “yes!”

Benefits of Informational Interviews

Informational Interviews are a best of both worlds’ scenario. An applicant has a meeting with a recruiter in a professional (yet low pressure) environment to learn about their company/industry. In addition, the candidate can gain information about the opportunities for post-graduate jobs, conferences, internship opportunities, and more from this single interview.

These interviews also serve as a preliminary screening to possibly recruit you for the position. By having an informational interview, an applicant is already on the company’s radar to fill that job/intern spot. This extra contact also gives the interviewee an advantage amongst others who apply for the same position. By talking to the Director of Recruitment or Hiring Committee, desirable traits and exactly what they are looking for will be made evident. This way, both you and the interviewer will be better able to see if the position is right for you.

How Should I Prepare for an Informational Interview?

An Informational Interview should be treated slightly differently from a regular interview.

Firstly, dressing Business Casual is appropriate for these interactions, unless you are specifically instructed to wear otherwise. Looking professional leads to feeling professional, and thus more productive conversation is likely to occur.

Next, prepare 3-5 questions for your interviewer about broader industry-wide topics. This not only shows that research was done beforehand, but also shows greater interest in the company to the recruiter. It is okay to have questions that ask why that recruiter works at that particular company and what their company culture is all about. However, it’s recommended to save some of those more distinct and personal questions for the first round of position interviews.

Follow Up's are Essential

Finally, follow up with your interviewer. Treat your informational interview follow up like any other full-time position or internship interview. Send an email, handwritten note, and/or LinkedIn message thanking the recruiter for their time and consideration. It will continue to set you apart from an individual who neglects to do that now and into the application process!

In Conclusion

If you haven’t considered engaging in an Informational Interview—you should! From learning more about what industries you would like to enter into for your career, to creating that personal connection with the recruiter for a higher rate of applicant success, informational interviews are incredibly helpful for career development. There is nothing to lose, and all is out there for you to go out and achieve.

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