Even if there are currently no positions available, there could be at some point in time down the line. Think about your upcoming informational interview as if there's a job for you waiting in the wings. An informational interview can open doors in terms of your future career path.
Informational interviewing is a largely overlooked process because it is misunderstood. In an informational interview, you are seeking leads and information regarding an industry, a career path, or an employer by talking to people you know or who have been referred to you. But before you run out and begin the actual process, you have to do your homework. Follow these ten steps in order to prepare appropriately.
Identify What The Main Objective Is
Deciding which position, company or industry you want to learn about will depend on what you want to do with your potential career path. You should have a sense of what is important to you and ultimately what you want.
Make A List of Key People Currently In Your Network
Choose those individuals who can potentially help you connect to other people within a company or an industry. Since this is part of networking, you will want to include anyone and everyone you know.
Schedule The Appointment
Setting up a 15 to 30 minute interview with the person in question regarding their specialty. Most people will be more than happy to help you. Don't get discouraged if you find that some people are too busy to give you an appointment.
Create an outline for the session
This is your meeting and you’ve set the parameters. Don't assume that this person will give you the information you need unless you ask the right questions. Select questions that will give you the best return on investment. Use your time wisely and in turn, do not waste their time.
Conduct Yourself as a Professional
Dress and act in the role of the position that you are seeking. Know as much as possible about the company before the interview so you can ask informed and thought provoking questions.
A little flattery goes a long way. Say something like, "________ gave me your name and told me that you're considered to be an expert in your field. How did you get started in that particular role?"
Be prepared to answer questions about what you're looking for.
Have a short personal statement prepared that you can present if you're asked about how your job search is going. Bring your latest resume, but don't offer it unless requested. Remember that the purpose of this interview is to obtain information and not necessarily land a job right at that moment.
Ask for Contact Names
Ask for other contacts in your field of interest. If no names are suggested, be grateful for any information or suggestions that are obtained from the interview.
Send thank-you and follow-up emails
Thank the person at the conclusion of the interview and send a thank you letter stating your gratitude for the time given. Stay in touch with your contacts by connecting on LinkedIn and / or via email correspondence. Make sure to inform the person how helpful their suggestions have been.
Take advantage of any referrals you receive
In this process, you will have to take risks and stretch beyond your comfort zone. The informational interview is a source of power you can use to your advantage. With preparation, listening and follow through, you will find and utilize the power of people helping each other. Each step will take you closer to that highly desired job offer.