What is an informational interview?

This concept might be new for some of you. Job seekers do informational interview to gather knowledge about the industry, company or any job that they want to learn about. It is a one-on-one comfortable conversation with a person who works with the particular company, industry or job profile. It should be initiated by a job seeker like you. It is a good way to network into an organization and a prospect for anticipated vacancies. It can happen in person, over the phone, or through emails and it is basically initiated by you. Main  purpose of informational interview is to build your career network and gain information. It usually lasts for a short duration , i.e., 20 – 30 minutes.

One benefit of going for informational interview is that you get a chance to practice your interview skills before undergoing a formal job interview. It is important to prepare for your informational interviews just as you would for an actual job interview. Write down a short message containing what you are interested in, about your experience and background. Then you should start reaching out to your contacts for informational interviews and it is best if you are referred by someone. You can also do informational interview with the person working in your dream company. You can find the information about the person through linkedIn, company’s directory or directly call the company to get the contact information about the person who holds the position you are interested in your dream company. Then prepare the list of all the people with whom you want to do informational interview.

Afterwords contact them to ask for available date and time when you can meet to discuss about their job profile, company and industry they are involved. It’s important to clarify that your interest is in gathering information and advice. They will respond to your email or your phone, if not ask them to recommend other person’s name. When you meet them, don’t hesitate to ask for advice about finding a job in the particular industry that person is working on. You can also ask them to suggest other people whom you can approach and talk to about your interests. Remember not to ask directly about any job opening in their company.

You might be wondering why people would be interested in giving informational interviews. It depends from person to person. Mostly, people enjoy sharing information about themselves and their jobs and, particularly, giving advice. It is common for professionals to exchange favors and information. They also believe in building networks. At the end don’t forget to follow up and send thank you note. If their suggestions have helped you or you have followed them, you can write to them about it. They will feel good about it and you never know they might offer assistance with your job search. Additionally, keep record of your meetings with the names, titles, address, dates and major points of discussion that will later help if you come across any openings in that company.

Source of this blog is MIT Career Guide.

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