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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Open a Door With an Informational Interview

An informational interview is one of the most powerful long-term career development tools. It is helps you build business relationships while learning about a job or industry. For career changers it should become an essential part of your portfolio of job seeking methods.(Editor's Note) 

Source: Creative Job Search, a publication of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

 of Labor CareerOneStop is sponsored by the U. S. Department of Labor,
Employment and Training Administration

What is an informational interview? An informational interview is a meeting between you and a professional. The purpose is to help define your career options or research a company where you want to work. It is NOT a job interview. Do not expect anyone to make you an offer.
What is my role? You are the interviewer. Prepare plenty of questions to keep the conversation moving.  Include questions about the occupation or business, but ask about other things too: Do they enjoy their work? How do they spend their day? Open-ended questions are best to avoid yes or no answers. See a list of sample informational interview questions.
How do I set one up?
  1. Find people Ask everyone you know for potential contacts in a field, company or job that piques your interest. The Employer Locator can also help you find potential employers to contact.

  1. Make contact Pick up the phone and make contact. Possible phone script:

    "Mrs. Smith, Brad Johnson suggested I speak with you. My name is Steven Olson and I am interested in the ________ field. I could use advice from someone who is in this field. Do you have any time this week when I could meet with you? I know you're busy, so I only need about 15 minutes of your time. I would really like to learn more about your company and the ________ field from someone like you."
What else should I remember?

  • If meeting in person, dress and act professionally.
  • Make a good impression. This person may provide additional leads or referrals that could lead to a job.
  • Keep it short. Limit your initial interview to 15 to 30 minutes based on how the conversation is going.
  • Feel free to schedule the interview with someone without hiring power. They often know more about day-to-day activities and have more specific information for you.
  • End the interview with an action plan. Ask the interviewee if you can contact him or her again.
  • Remember to send a thank-you note after your interview!
Related Career Tools:
Free:Take a 7 minute Career test
Create Brilliantly Crafted Cover Letters
Want to stop wasting time posting your resume to career sites

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