NETWORKING: THE INFORMATION INTERVIEW
What is an Informational Interview? An informational interview is a meeting that you initiate for the purposes of gaining additional knowledge from a person with hands-on experience. In contrast to a job interview, you are the interviewer - the ball is in your court as to the content and flow. You need to come prepared with questions that you v ant answered Never, never ask for a job when you have booked an appointment for an informational interview. There is no quicker way to alienate this contact and the person who gave you the referral than to have a hidden agenda." Always follow up the interview with a thank-you note in which you reiterate anything you found particularly interesting or helpful. Also, keep a record of names, dates. comments and referrals.
Why do an information gathering interview? • To get first hand information from an expert; • To check out if your assumptions about a career are really the truth; • To get up to date information regarding trends • To get more specific information on just about anything; • To get more personal and subjective information; • To get more reflective information about the on-the-job atmosphere, demands, joys, sorrows, etc.: • To receive an assessment of your aspirations, your skills, your strategy, your resume, etc.. • .. . and anything else you can think of.
What is the difference between an informational interview and a job interview?
• Control: The balance is in your favor. You know what information you ant and what the questions are.
• Purpose: They're not interviewing you for a job (not now at least). but you are making that critical first impression which could lead to other recommendations (one of your questions should be to ask for these), or perhaps a position with the company (only if they initiate the subject).
• Pressure: There is every reason for both of you to be relaxed. This is an opportunity to investigate just \hat you want. The spotlight is on your contact's expertise and your interest in that expertise.
How to arrange the interview • Personal referral is the most effective. Have a mutual acquaintance be the bridge for your contact. • Walk in or phone calls are the next best routes if you don't have a personal referral
- Letters seldom work unless it includes a personal referral and follow-up by phone.