Friday, May 6, 2011

Informational Interviews: Gain Insight and Expand Your Network

Informational interviews are a great way to not only learn about possible career fields, but to expand your professional network. It is a common assumption that informational interviews are conducted solely by students, however that is a myth. This form of interviewing has become a regular component of career exploration for all stages of one’s career. If you are considering a career change, looking to learn more about a given field or company, or just want to grow professionally, consider seeking out a fellow professional to interview. If you do not have a contact in your target industry to interview, search on LinkedIn. Join on-brand groups and discover the leaders in your industry of interest. Be sure to make your intention clear; you are not soliciting a job, just gathering information. We suggest preparing structured interview questions to maximize your time. Show up professionally dressed and organized. Though this is not a job interview, you still want to put your best foot forward. As the interview is coming to an end, be sure to ask for the name and contact information of two other people in the industry that may be helpful for you to contact. This will help grow your professional network in a new field and gain a slightly different perspective.

Steps to a successful informational interview:

1. Identify a professional in your field of interest and contact them, clearly stating your intention.

2. Arrange a meeting (in person, over the phone, or via email.)

3. Arrive early with structured interview questions.

4. Express your appreciation, get a business card, and leave.

5. Follow up with a thank you note.

- Posted by Kelly Higgins

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