What Are Informational Interviews?

Building relationships with new professionals is an important part of moving towards a fulfilling career that is aligned with your future goals. It can be especially helpful if you are looking to change jobs, pivot careers or grow yourself in your current role.

Why is it important for you?

I personally try to schedule at least 3-4 meetings with new professionals every month to continue to expand my network and my knowledge. This type of networking meeting is called an informational interview, which is a meeting with a person to learn about an occupational function, industry, or career path.

People sometimes get confused on the actual intent of an informational interview. It should not be used to ask for a job or to ask someone to forward your resume. I like to use it as a way to expand my own knowledge of things happening in different industries or in my own career field. It’s interesting to learn how different companies operate or what problems or challenges people face in their roles and how they solve them. Informational interviews are what helped me pivot my career several times because I learned what skills were needed along with where to access resources to help me gain new knowledge or skills.

‍What is in it for them?‍

I know that it can be intimidating to ask busy professionals for their time so what is in it for them?  First of all, people want to help others going through a shared experience whether it be a similar career path or transition. Especially these days, people that are fortunate enough to have a job want to help those who might be looking for one. They may also see it as an opportunity to expand their network and knowledge and you never know when you might be able to provide them something from your network or knowledge base.

Providing information during an informational interview helps professionals validate their own career identity of being a subject matter expert in their field. People enjoy talking about themselves and sharing their career journey. Put yourself in their shoes. It feels good when your story can inspire someone else and help them in their career. 

‍What steps should you take to find people for informational interviews?‍

  1. Create a list of occupational functions, industries, companies, or job titles you are interested in exploring.
  2. Use your contacts, LinkedIn, your alumni network(s), professional associations to identify people in these areas. Use a tool to track all of these contacts and their information.
  3. Reach out with email or LinkedIn messaging to request an informational interview, and make sure to include the specific goal or your meeting and don't ask for more than 20 minutes of their time.
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