Try an Informational Interview for Future Job Leads

July 27th, 2012

If your job search has slowed and no interviews are on the horizon, think about setting up an informational interview to broaden your network and expand the possibilities for future career opportunities.

An informational interview is the opportunity to talk to someone in your chosen field, with valuable knowledge about the businesses you’re interested in and about the right people to meet later down the road. You can ask others in your existing network for referrals to people who are willing to participate in this type of interview or you can try contacting them on your own. Either way, go into this knowing such a meeting can be very valuable if handled correctly. Tips include:

Get consent. When you reach out to an individual, make sure they’re open to the idea of an informational interview. Some people are only too glad to help out, while others may turn you down or simply not respond. Don’t pester such people; it will only eliminate them as future contacts.

Have an agenda. What are you looking for in an informational interview? Do you want to learn about current industry trends? Are you seeking referrals to hiring managers? Whatever your goal, know what you want going in and stick to this agenda.

Be yourself. Remember, this is not a job interview. You’re looking for information. Don’t make the person who agreed to meet you uncomfortable by persistently asking for leads on specific job openings.

Be polite and aware of time. This informational interview is taking place only because your contact is willing to share her time and knowledge with you. So don’t be late showing up or behave in any unprofessional manner. Also, be conscious of the amount of time the interview takes. Respect the other person and end the discussion at the agreed-upon time.

Ask for references. It’s OK to politely ask for the names of other people you can meet with. Even if the referral provided isn’t a hiring manager with a specific job opening, additional names only expand your network and increase the likelihood of valuable contacts down the line.

Return the favor. Beyond expressing your gratitude (which you should do under any circumstances), ask the other person if there’s anything you can help them with. This makes the interview more of a two-way street and will also deepen your relationship.

Learn more about how Meador Staffing Services can help you in your job search.