Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Informational Interviews

Informational Interviews were quite the hot topic a couple of years ago but I hear less about them now. However, I believe that for the new grad, these interviews can be very enlightening and sometimes give you a good "foot in the door" at a company you'd love to work for.

What is an informational interview? More than anything, I think of it as a "reverse interview". Instead of getting asked a bunch of questions by an employer to see if you are a good fit for their company, you get to ask a bunch of questions OF an employer to determine if they are a good fit for you.

How do you get an informational interview? Do you have a dream job in mind? Call them up! Google the department you want to be in. Usually a Linked In profile will pop up for an individual you'd want to speak to. A little too scary? This is also a great time to work your network! Start asking your friends and family if they know anyone in _____ industry who might be willing to discuss their job with you. Inevitably, people will want to help you out and put you in touch with people who will speak with you.

What should you ask? Since you are taking up some of this person's time, it's crucial that you prepare your questions in advice. Remember, almost everyone likes to talk about themselves, you just need to ask the right questions. Ask them about their career path, how they got this position, if anyone mentored them, what their favorite part of their job is, what they dislike, what challenges they face, where they think the industry is headed, what do they wish they'd known when they were in your position, what advice they have for you....Clearly, there are a ton of questions you can ask, so make sure to create a list.

Don't forget to follow up! At the very least, send a thank you note. At the most, send cookies. Better yet, bring homemade cookies in an adorable box with you. Yes, I was on the receiving end of cookies last year and was very impressed with her forethought. Remember, this is a chance to build your network and possibly get a job, so don't forget to follow up in a gracious way.

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