Informational interviews have enormous benefits for your job search and career. Learn how they are a valuable research method to gain insight, advice, and direction about a specific career or company.
- An informational interview is one of the most powerful tools you can use to explore your future career options, because the best information regarding companies or industries isn't available online or in print. It comes from professionals already working in the field. An informational interview has enormous benefits for your job search and career. It's a valuable research method to gain insight, advice, and direction about a specific career or company.
An informational interview will expand your professional network as you meet people who have the potential to open doors to future opportunities. It can give you an inside perspective on current industry and employment trends. You'll gather tips about preparing for a career in your field of interest, and you'll learn about new career paths. There may be jobs in your field of interest that you didn't even know existed. Informational interviews help you understand the work involved, and the necessary skills needed to pursue your chosen career.
As you continue to conduct informational interviews, you build confidence in your ability to interview and network with industry leaders. A recent college grad entering law school scheduled informational interviews with two litigation attorneys and one corporate attorney. She set them up through her alumni association, a connection on LinkedIn, and through a referral from the American Bar Association. These interviews gave her an insider view of a typical day for an attorney.
She was surprised by the selling aspect of law firm attorneys. She learned most attorneys were promoted to partner when they had high billable hours. She had envisioned herself as a litigation attorney, spending most of her time in the courtroom, but she quickly learned that she'd spend most of her time in the office, researching and preparing for the few hours she would spend in court. Her last informational interview was with a corporate attorney for a Fortune 500 company.
She found she related more to the responsibilities of the corporate legal council, and as a result, decided that would be her focus. When she shared this decision, the corporate attorney hired her as a paid intern for the summer. She gained valuable on-the-job experience, and by asking specific questions about responsibility, advancement potential, and goals, she decided a future as a corporate legal council aligned with her goals.
Another benefit to informational interviews is they can reveal roadblocks that could prevent you from getting hired. You may find you need additional training, certifications, or a specific skill. And one more thing. If the person you met with was helpful and credible, ask if you can occasionally check in with them for advice as you advance in your career. Two of the greatest benefits of an informational interview are to expand your professional network, and find individuals willing to mentor you.
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- Informational interview vs. job interview
- Selecting a specific occupation
- Identifying appropriate companies and contacts
- Scheduling an informational interview
- Preparing and researching before an interview
- Updating your résumé
- Asking good questions
- Listening and taking notes
- Following up
- Contacting referrals
- Building your network