An informational interview is the type of interview that is used by those seeking a job to determine whether or not a career path or a professional field is suitable for their abilities and interests. This interview is purely used to gather information and is not designed to be a way to determine hiring eligibility. This type of interview is not used by employers to screen potential job candidates.
To many this type of interview is a fantastic tool to test the waters of a desired career before beginning the actual job hunt.
Who are Informational Interviews for?
The informational interview can be used by any number of people in various stages of their life. If you are looking to change careers you will find that using this strategy will give you a sense of the duties and requirements of that career. This way you can gather information without leaving your current place of employment. This eliminates the risks of taking on a new career that you may end up unable to handle or one that does not meet your expectations.
Students often use this interview strategy as they enter into the work force. Generally inexperienced students should take all the necessary precautions before going into a profession to make sure that they are able to handle the duties and stress of the job. Informational interviews will also allow the students a glimpse inside the profession without having to just jump right in.
Benefits and Disadvantages
The benefits of the informational interview type are numerous. The most notable benefit is a matter of control. Unlike a regular interview where you are at the whim of the employer you are the one asking the questions. These questions can range from the basic to the more detailed concerning duties, stresses, and what to expect.
This type of interview is also a helpful network tool. You will be able to make contacts in the field as you seek out professionals that are interested in sharing their insights. These contacts will be invaluable should you choose to enter into the field you are interested in.
The disadvantage of the informational interview type is of course that you are not being considered for employment. This is merely a fact finding procedure designed to give you more information about the career and whether or not you would want to enter that field.
How to Find Potential Contacts
Before you are able to undertake the interview you will need to find a contact in the industry you are interested in. If you are lucky you may already know someone in the field either through personal relations or through your work in your current profession. If this is the case it should be no trouble to schedule an interview and gather all the information you desire.
Of course it is more likely that you do not know anyone in the profession you want to learn about. If this is the case you will need to do a little bit of research and call different human resource departments in an attempt to find a professional willing to take time to speak with you.
The informational interview can be done either in person, over the phone, or through E-mail. Remember to be respectful and keep in mind that the person before you is taking time out of their busy schedule to speak with you. Always follow proper etiquette and send a thank you note or message after the interview to display your gratitude.
Remember, while the informational interview is not going to lead to immediate employment it is possible that you may make an invaluable contact in the field you are interested in.
Adapted From The Everything Job Interview Book, 2nd Edition by Joy Darlington and Nancy Schuman, Copyright © 2008, 2001 by F W Media, Inc., published by Adams Media, a division of F W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.