Beyond Classifieds: Informational Interviews

Did you know that fewer than 20% of all jobs are advertised in the classified section? And if you are Internet surfing, how can you be sure that your resume was ever read by a person rather than dumped by an electronic resume scanner? It might seem that job hunting is a bleak process but it doesn’t need to be.

One of the most effective techniques in finding employment is the informational interview. Unlike a job interview, you don’t wait for an employer to call you but instead you search out people and ask for a brief meeting to learn more about what they do, what kinds of skills they have and what advice they have for someone seeking to work in the same field.

Informational interviews are great opportunities to learn about the hidden job market, to build a network of peer professionals and to work your way into a new career with an ally.

Informational interviews offer these advantages:

  • You get to learn the inside scoop about an industry or company.
  • You gain insight to a career or may even find someone willing to serve as a mentor.
  • You may learn about job openings before they are posted.
  • You can ask questions which might seem too “touchy” to ask in a job interview.

There are some tricks to informational interviews. Here are some tips to follow:

1. Determine your goals before asking for an informational interview. Do you want to learn about an industry? A particular company? A type of job?

2. Place your request in writing to the individual you hope to interview. Be sure to let this person know that you are seeking an appointment of 30 – 45 minutes.

3. Let your “interviewee” know that you are not seeking their help in finding you a job but instead seeking their insights gained from their experience and expertise.

4. Have some specific questions prepared for the interview. Show that you’ve done some research and are utilizing this time in the best manner possible.

5. At the end of the informational interview, ask if your interviewee has a suggestion about someone else you might interview. If your interviewee seems reluctant to offer the name of an individual, then ask for the title of a book, professional association or any other advice they might have.

Always send a thank you note following your informational interview. The thank you note shows your professionalism as well as helps to create a path for future communication.

So put down the newspaper, move away from the keyboard and start interviewing your way to new career opportunities.

Categories Careers, Interviewing
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