What are informational interviews? Why are they so advantageous to your job search? Informational interviews are an opportunity to speak with people at your target company and gain side information without the pressure of a formal interview.
Informational interviews are advantageous to your job search because you can receive an internal referral, an introduction to a hiring manager and information that can be leveraged when interviewing or negotiating your salary. 🙂
I am going to walk you through how to go from an informational interview to a new job.
1. Find target people for your informational interviews.
The best informational interviews are with people in your target position at your target companies. With more than 300 million monthly active users, LinkedIn is one of the best ways to find these people. Use the Current Company search field to find five target people.
2. Invite them for informational interviews.
Once you have identified the people you want to chat with, invite them to informational interviews. Keep your message concise and include a clear call to action. You may consider something along the lines of, “Hi [First], I hope this message finds you fabulously. I see you work at [Company] as a [Title]. I do similar work at [Company]. I would love to share best practices. When’s a good time to connect?”
By sending this message to a handful of people in your target role, you are better ensuring that at least one or two of them will respond, agreeing to an informational interview. Out of the thousands of messages that I have sent, I have only ever had a single person respond saying, “No.”
3. Conduct your informational interviews.
Once your new friends begin responding to your message, it’s time to conduct your informational interviews. (I am a big fan of conducting these via video!) What questions do you ask during these chats? Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple Google search. Instead, the best questions are those that allow 1) for answers you genuinely are craving and 2) for you to share about your fabulous self.
Some of my favorite informational interview questions include:
• How did you get into [profession]?
• What’s your favorite part of working at [Company]?
• If you could change one thing about [Company], what would it be?
• Is there anything you wish you would have known before you joined [Company]?
• What makes you fabulous?
End the interview by thanking your new friend for their time. You can also ask them who else they can connect you to at the company and in the industry.
3. Send a thank-you email and card.
Don’t forget to follow up. Send a thank-you email and thank-you card (yes, via snail mail) within 24 hours. You may also consider sending a five- to 10-dollar Starbucks gift card as a token of your appreciation. Additionally, as you continue throughout your job search, be sure to continue to update and thank them.
4. Seal the deal with a clear call to action.
You had a successful informational interview, and you thanked them; now what? Seal the deal and land a new job with a clear call to action. This may look like:
• “I appreciated your insights on the interview process. What tips do you have for my application?”
• “Based on what you have shared about [Company], I can really envision myself here. What does your internal referral process look like?”
• “I saw a recent job posting on [Company]’s job board for a [position]. Would you please introduce me to the hiring manager?”
Note: Some of these questions may be most appropriate during your informational interview, while others are best as follow-up inquiries. Read the room.
Repeat steps one through five a few times per week, and you will land a new job in no time.
Oh, and when you land your awesome job, be sure to update all of your new friends!
Forbes, Kyle Cromer Elliott-MPA, CHES, 4 June 2020.