If you’re a recent graduate or trying to break into a new industry with little experience, an informational interview is a great way to get your foot in the door. Asking an industry expert for 10 minutes of their time over a cup of coffee is a fantastic opportunity to ask some well positioned questions, and if everything goes right, you might be the first person they think of when an acquaintance or friend looking for a new employee. So, how can you improve your chances for success in an informational interview? How can you earn some industry insider tips for improving your resume and promising leads for a next job?
For an informational interview you have to act like it’s the real deal, except you’re asking for advice, not a job. Wear professional clothes, arrive punctually and put your best foot forward. Body language is equally important so arrive with a firm handshake, maintain eye contact and smile. Talk with passion about why you want to work in this industry and what you can bring to the table. Come ready with a printed version of your up-to-date resume and be able to concisely talk about your valuable strengths even if you lack the necessary experience.
The industry expert is likely doing you a favour by inviting you for an informational interview. Their time is precious so make sure you come ready to impress and express gratitude for the opportunity to sit down with him/her. Do your homework about their career parth and the company they work for and come ready to ask some educated, insightful questions to reflect your research. Despite the fact that this isn’t a real job interview, your actions in the mock interview will tell a lot about the type of employee you will be; intelligent, hardworking, does their homework, self-starter…
What are you trying to get out of this informational interview? If you want a job at the interviewer’s company, a company they used to work for or in a specific area they have expertise, now is your opportunity to ask. Specificity and direction will help. However remember you’re NOT asking for a job, so you have to tread with care. A good tactic is to ask what impresses them in new candidates, what recent changes have happened in the field since and where the opportunities are.
Not everyone who invites you for an informational interview will have the professional matchmaking mentality, but following the three steps above will improve your chance of getting something – a referral, a lead, or a key piece of guidance – out of your meeting. Good luck and get your foot in the door of your dream career.