Have you ever had an "informational interview?" If you have, then you may know what I am talking about but if you haven't, here is a brief explanation. Watch: How To Stop Being Random With Your Networking Efforts An informational interview is a tool to help job seekers, career transitioners, and even college students, understand a particular job or field they are considering moving toward. It is a brief conversation - either on the phone or in person - in which the person seeking the new career is "interviewing" the person currently in the role or field of study. The goal is to learn about the perception versus reality of an area of interest. I did this when I was first looking into coaching. It was the best thing I could have done. I wasn't sure career coaching was what I wanted to focus on. By speaking to real coaches in various areas of expertise, I got a true picture of the training and experience necessary and even the lifestyle/schedule. Before digging into how to have an effective interview, there are a few key differences between a regular job interview and an informational interview I want you to understand. The informational interview is targeted at:
- Keeping it brief
- Information gathering - mostly one sided
- The person in the job you most want to investigate
- Much longer
- With multiple interviewers, both parties are interviewing each other
- The job seeker is the core person being interviewed by a hiring manager(s)
1. Prepare, Prepare, PrepareNever "wing it." Prepare as you would for anything truly important. This shows respect to the person you are interviewing. Know where you are meeting and how long it will take to get there, if this is in person. If it is on the phone, have the correct number and time. Confirm the details the day before. If in person, again dress appropriately which means professional. Develop your questions in advance and have them in priority order. Some great questions to ask in an informational interview:
- How did you get into this field?
- What are your core roles and responsibilities?
- What is the favorite part of your job?
- What do you most dislike?
- Here is my interest and background (keep it brief). How might you suggest I break into the field?
- What training or education is required?
- What associations do you belong to?
- What publications do you read to keep up with your field?