The grass is always greener on the other side. You may think you want to work in this brand new, shiny career, but do you really? Who better to ask than someone who currently holds the job you want? Get an idea of how to get the answers you need about the job you think you want.
- Informational interviews are frequently used as part of a career change strategy and it can be a wonderful tool if you know how to use it correctly. The term informational interview sounds so formal that it intimidates some people but don't worry. You've probably already done them. If you've ever taken a friend out for coffee to pick their brain about their last employer or their new job because you're considering applying there, that was an informational interview and by giving this process a formal name, you can now feel confident in asking a stranger for information instead of just relying on close friends and acquaintances.
An informational interview is a 15 to 30 minute phone call or in person meeting with someone who has the ability to provide you with information, not rumor or conjecture but actual data about salary requirements, barriers to entry, organizational culture or insight on upcoming projects that may be of interest to you. In an informational interview, you don't ask for anything but information. You don't ask for referrals. You don't ask them to submit you for an opening at their company.
This is an opportunity for the other person to let their guard down and give you the information you need. Of course you want a job but this isn't the time or the place to ask for it. Plus, before you get the information, you don't actually know if you're qualified for the job you think you want so don't get ahead of yourself. Informational interviews can seem like an unnecessary additional step in an already long process but if you are thinking that, you're looking at it all wrong. You're not searching for just an okay job.
You're looking to start a new career and that requires research. Great questions to ask on an informational interview include if your best friend wanted to work at your company, what would your advice to them be? How are new projects distributed? What about your job do you enjoy the most? What do you enjoy the least? Do you have opportunities to work with people in other departments? Informational interviews are your way of eliminating companies in the beginning so that you can save yourself from wasting your time later in the process.
This is also a great way to create a top five list so that you can use your energy and all the tools in your arsenal to obtain a job in a company that is right for you. Your top five list should include those companies who to get an interview you'll go that extra mile and throw everything you've got at it. At Rework Work, we always talk about not only finding a job you will love but finding an employer who will love you back. An informational interview can help you find the employer that's right for you.
- Recognize what you can do to become ready to transition into a new career.
- Explain what you could do if you know what job you want but just aren’t sure you meet the qualifications to obtain it.
- Recall what it requires to get on the right path if you are sure you’re in the wrong career.
- Recognize how feedback can help you with your decision to change your career.
- Identify what internal networking at your current job has to do with making a career change and leaving that job.