Informational Interviews: Get the 4-1-1

22 10 2013

Informational Interviews

Photo Courtesy of Levo League

Making new connections and reaching out to old ones is the best way to learn more about the career path you want to take. Informational interviews with your contacts, and your contacts’ contacts, can help you decide what you would like to do with your future. Professionals who are in careers you are interested in are the best people to talk to. They can clue you in on what they do and the challenges they face. These interviews can help focus your life and drive your career forward.

You may be wondering if anyone would be willing to help answer your questions. However, by pursuing contacts you have already connected with and reaching out to family, friends, coworkers, and other connections, you are guaranteed to find someone who would love to help someone just starting out in their career. Informational interviews can help you explore different careers you are interested in, find new employment opportunities, identify challenges you may face, and help you work on your weaknesses.

Informational interviews can be formal or informal and last 20 to 30 minutes. Once you have found a contact you would like to interview, reach out to them by email or a phone call. Keep it simple and be straightforward. Once you have set up a time and place, it’s time to do some research. Research the person’s career path and their company.

When you know the basics, you can come up with a few questions. Perhaps you’ll want to ask:

  • What do you enjoy the most about your job?
  • What do you wish someone had told you when you started your career?
  • Do you know anyone else you think I should talk to?

Depending on how formal your interview is, dress appropriately; if it’s formal, dress like you would to an interview. If it’s more casual, dress appropriately but put together. Start your interview by giving your elevator pitch, a short summary of who you are and what makes you a great candidate for a job. Explain what you are looking to do with your future and what you are hoping to get out of the interview. During the interview, stay engaged and take notes to get the most out of the experience.

After the informational interview, send a thank you note much like you would after a regular job interview. If the interview went well, keep them updated on your career; you may form a mentorship relationship! Hearing stories and advice from professionals can be rewarding and can help you on your own career path. These interviews can put you a step ahead when finding a job and help you stand out from the crowd.

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For this post, Campus to Career thanks our friends at CollegeFocus!

About the author: Priya Sudendra is a junior at the University of Colorado and a staff writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.

You can follow CollegeFocus on Twitter and Facebook.

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