How do you do it? How do you make it worthwhile?
For college students, informational interviews are vital. Before you send 100s of email applications into the void spring semester senior year, make sure you develop a few key professional connections outside your internship supervisors.
Get some one on one time with professionals you admire by requesting a conversation over the phone or over coffee. Unlike a job interview, informational interviews allow for more of a dialogue and leave room for learnings for both parties as you get to know each other—whether you’re the seasoned professional or the one just starting out in your career.
Informational interviews are a chance for you to learn about your chosen industry, and what’s made the seasoned professional successful in their career path.
Informational interviews should place you as a top candidate for the seasoned professional when they see job postings relevant to you in their network. These interviews are a chance to leave an impression.
Utilize the tactics below to leave your mark and land that next job or connection.
1. Find the right professional to interview
If you are just starting out there is a good chance you don’t have a network to reach out to professionals in your desired career. And that’s okay.
The first thing you can do is talk to upperclassmen or professors on your campus and let them know the type of person you are looking to get connected to. Alternatively, you can attend an event on or off campus related to your career field, and perhaps you will bump into someone there or perhaps someone on the panel that you can connect with.
Lastly, utilize LinkedIn and Twitter search. On both platforms, you can search for professionals that are alumni of your school. When you connect be sure to add a personal note on LinkedIn or send a short direct message on Twitter and let them know why you are reaching out, what you admire about them, and the best way to follow up with them should they want to connect.
2. Come prepared with background info
Do some research on the person before you meet them. Check their LinkedIn and their social media. Focus in on what you admire about them or how they represent someone you aspire to be.
Find some commonalities between the two of you. This will make your connection seem genuine, and you’re interviewee will be impressed with the work you put in before the meeting.
3. Develop your questions and talking points
What do you want to learn from this professional? Make a list of a couple key conversation points that you want to address during your meeting with them.
While you don’t want to sound scripted, you also don’t want to be grasping for straws when you sit down with the person!
4. Don’t forget to talk about yourself
Although you are there to learn from the other person, they will also want to get to know more about you. This is your chance to highlight your strengths and make an impression.
Getting the job you want is all about the right connections, and informationals are more than just a learning experience, they’re also about building your network.
5. Ask if they can connect you to anyone else
As a natural ending point to the conversation, you can thank the interviewee for their time and state how much value you gained from the conversation.
Transitioning from the thank you, ask if they can connect you with anyone else in their network based on what they learned about you and where you want to go in your professional career, so that you can have a similar conversation and continue to grow.
6. Send a thank you note
This might be via text or email but remember to thank the person you meet with for their time. An act of gratitude can go a long way, and it’ll increase the chance of them thinking of you the next time an opportunity arises.
And that’s it! The basics to informational interviewing.
In next week’s blog, we’ll breakdown informational interview outreach, execution, and follow up step-by-step.
Informational interviews are an art, and we want to ensure you show up to impress.