Honestly, it feels a little bit weird to be talking about career advice and advancement in the middle of a pandemic. With so much uncertainty in the world today it can be difficult to find ways that you can work toward your future and work to advance your career. That's why today I'm excited to be talking about something that you can do right now, from home to advance your career: informational interviews. The best part about informational interviews is that they can be done virtually via phone or video call, and still serve as a great networking tool and a great way to learn about career paths and get your foot in the door. Today's job market is more competitive than ever, and it's time to get creative on how to break in and stand out. Especially for the class of 2020, I hope this guide helps you take a step closer to your dream job! This is the last part of a 3 part series. You can read part 1 "Why & How to Set Up an Informational Interview" here, and part 2 "Preparing for an Informational Interview" here!
Informational interviews are a simple and effective way to network and grow your career as a young professional. They’re the reason I landed my job in a highly competitive industry!
Over the last 2 weeks we’ve talked about what an informational interview is, how to set one up, and what to do to prepare for one. Now it’s time to discuss conducting an informational interview! These tips will help set you up for success.
Before Conducting the Informational Interview
For an in-person informational interview
If your informational interview is in person, you need to get ready a little differently than if it were over the phone.
First, make sure to dress the part. While you don’t need to wear a suit or dress as if you would for a job interview, you should match the dress code of the place where you are going or the place where the person whom you are interviewing works. At the very least, dress business casual!
You spent the time getting prepared, don’t forget to bring your written down questions and a notebook where you can take any notes you may want to!
For bonus points: Bring your business card if you have one.
Arrive to the meeting location a couple of minutes early and get settled, especially if meeting in a crowded place like a coffee shop.
For a phone/video informational interview
Ensure that you have solid cell service or internet connection and that you’re in a quiet area where background noise won’t be a problem. Have your prepared questions in front of you and a notebook to jot down notes during the call.
This may be my anxiety talking, but I always like to practice how I’ll start the call. After confirming that the correct person answered the phone, it’s important that one of the first things you do is thank the person you’re interviewing for their time.
How do I start my calls? “Hi this is Dani, is this [NAME]?” (then they answer and say yes) “Great! Thank you so much again for taking the time to speak with me today. How are you doing?”
Keep an eye on the time – make sure to call them on time and also not take up too much of their day as well.
Related Post: How to Be a Standout Intern
Learn More about Informational Interviews
Interested in learning more about informationals? Check out this episode of The Quarter Life Crisis Club Podcast, where Sara and I share our experiences being on both sides of the informational interview process!
Conducting the Informational Interview
Your basic informational consists of these key elements:
1. The greeting & thank you
Make sure to start by thanking them for taking the time to meet with you!
2. Asking the prepared questions / starting the conversation
Start with the questions you’ve prepared and then move to a conversation based on their answers.
3. Continuing the conversation & sharing about yourself
As we discussed before, it’s vital to find a time to let the person who you’re meeting with know about YOU!
4. Asking for advice & other connections
If the interview goes well and you feel comfortable, I’ve found that the 2 most beneficial things to say at the end of an informational interview are:
- “Now that I’ve told you about myself as well, I’d love to know if you have any advice for someone in my current position/someone looking to get into your industry/company?”
- This is the perfect time to get advice tailored to you, from someone who is in the place you want to be! This is also the perfect time, if the interview went really well, for the interviewee to have the chance to say “if there’s anything I can do or any roles you’re interested in that I can recommend you for, please let me know!” (hint: this is how I got my job, by asking this question!)
- “It has been wonderful talking with you today. Do you perhaps know anyone else who I should reach out to?”
- It’s universally understood that one big goal of informational interviews is to expand your network and make connections. You do this by having connections lead you to more connections. Asking this is a polite yet direct way to open the door for your new connection to help you expand your network.
5. Goodbye & thank you – again!
That’s right, another thank you. It is important that they learn how polite and grateful you are in order to make a good impression!
Related Post: Kick Start Your Career in College
After the Informational Interview
You may be thinking wait, I’m done… there’s more things to do? Yep!
First, send a quick, short, thank you email/message to your new connection thanking them for their time. In this thank you note is the perfect place to follow-up on anything talked about in the interview. Did they say that they were going to connect you with a colleague? This is the perfect time to give them a nudge and say “thank you again for recommending that I connect with [NAME], I’m looking forward to the chance to meet them.”
Next, add them on LinkedIn! You already looked at their profile when you prepared for the meeting, now’s the time to make your new connected LinkedIn official.
Finally, stay in touch. Now that you have a new connection, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. Do you see an opening for a role at their company? Send them an email, reminding them what a great help they were when you met before. Include your resume and a link to the job description asking if they have any other info or if they recommend anyone you can reach out to to learn more about the role.
Now that you’ve learned how to conduct a successful informational interview, go out and conquer!
Learn More About Informational Interviews
Ready to master everything you need to know about informational interviews? Check out these other posts for more tips!