While most of us are acquainted with regular job interviews, informational interviews can also be incredibly useful during your job search. This type of interview allows you to learn more about a company and while it may not lead to a job immediately, it’s a great way to develop your contacts, get your name out there and get referrals with companies who are hiring.
The first step is asking for the informational interview. If you call a company and they currently are not hiring, don’t let it go. Ask if the hiring manager would be willing to sit with you for a brief informational meeting. Depending on how busy they are, you might be able to land one. Keep in mind that you should not push for this type of interview. Ask once and if they aren’t interested or seem to be put off by the idea, move on to your next contact.
Once you have the agreement to do an informational interview, it is best to schedule it in their office, if they are willing. You can do an out of office lunch, breakfast or coffee meeting, but this can be cost-prohibitive since it is traditional for the job seeker to pay. In office meetings typically accomplish more and they’ll have easy access to any information you might need.
These meetings should be brief, around 15 to 20 minutes in length. Set the time in advance so your contact knows it won’t take long and make sure you stick to your limit. Develop a list of questions before hand so that you will be able to cover all the bases in one meeting and you won’t have to worry about getting stuck. Take notes during the interview so you won’t forget anything.
It is incredibly important to make a good impression during an informational meeting. Dress professionally, make sure you don’t monopolize their time and always be courteous. Remember, even if they don’t have a position right now, you’ll be first in mind when they do.
When the interview is over, ask your contact if they would be willing to give you a list of referrals. Most hiring managers network with different firms and they may be able to provide you with some invaluable contacts. Save this list and follow-up with them immediately.
After your informational interview is over, make sure you follow-up with a handwritten thank you card in a few days. While you can send an email, a handwritten card is a nicer touch and will go a long way towards having them remember you in a favorable light.
Informational interviews may not land you a job right away, but they will help you network, learn more about different companies and they may pay off in the future when the company is hiring.
Do you have a question about landing informational interviews? Contact the experts at Contemporary Staffing today!