Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Informational Interviews

I'm a strong believer in the power of informational interviews. They are a great way to use your network of people to your advantage! I'm having one this evening and here is how the connection happened - I started this blog, my sister sent a link of it to one of her friends, said friend read it and suggested I connect with someone she knows, I did, now we're having an informational interview. Thank you, blog.

I found some tips for having an effective informational interview on Lindsey Pollak's Blog and I wanted to share them here since they are especially relevant for me today:

1. Confirm - at least 24 hours in advance to show that you are taking this seriously. This is SO important. I had a meeting set up once and did not confirm ... the woman I was meeting had the date and time wrong in her calendar so I waited in a coffee shop for an hour before I was able to get in touch with her. Confirming is beneficial for you in so many ways.

2. Be on time - Duh! As a professional you should be on time anyway. To me, being 15 minutes early is on time. You want to get there and still have some time to collect yourself and your thoughts.

3. Do your research - When you're going into an informational interview, you want to be able to ask smart questions. This does not include, "What do you do?". You should already know that...that's why you're talking to this person! A quick search on Google or LinkedIn should answer this for you. Doing your research shows the person you're talking to that you are taking this opportunity seriously.

4. Clearly & concisely explain your situation - While you've done your research, it's likely that the person you're interviewing hasn't done theirs, and that's okay, it's not their job. You should be able to give a brief introduction of who you are, what you've done, and what you're looking for. This about your job "objective" and expand on it a bit. It's okay if you don't know what you want to do; you're probably doing this interview in part to help you find out. Just be able to communicate.

Even if you aren't searching for a job, it's still a good idea to do informational interviews from time to time with people in your field. Get to know people in your field, find out what they are doing and whether or not they like it.