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Jump Start Your Job Search with Informational Interviews

 

What’s the difference between Job Hunting and Internet Surfing?

A Hunter’s Survival Guide - Part 5
 
Most often people think of informational interviews when they are looking for a new job, but really, they can be a great tool at any point in your career.

For years people told me “just call someone and see if they will see you for a few minutes, it’s a great way to network for a position with an organization.” Recently, I bit the bullet and went on my first informational interview. In the past I didn’t take advantage of informational interviews because I wasn’t sure how to schedule it, what questions to ask, or what to do on the interview. But, when I met someone who was a potential employer and they asked if I would like to stop by their office I jumped at the chance. Here’s how I made it easy.

Make a Connection
I haven’t met someone who loves to cold call an organization.  Yet, that’s what is often suggested as the first step in setting up an informational interview.  Find an organization, give them a ring, find the right person and meet.  If that’s for you, go for it!  What are you waiting for?

If it isn’t, try something a little different – network into the informational interview.  If you know someone who works for a firm you are trying to learn more about, ask them to set you up with someone.  Or, see if that person will give you 30 minutes to ask questions.

Try this – the next time you are chatting with someone at a networking event and they have a background you would like to hear more about ask them:

I’d love to hear more about how you got into your current work.  Do you think that I could meet with you next week to talk a little about your work history, what got you into the field and what you might recommend for my own career path?

Or

I’ve been reading a lot about your organization over the last few months.  I’m impressed with the project you have just completed/work you have been doing with that client.  Would you mind if I stopped in to talk more about the work that your firm does?
 
Get the Meeting Right
Even though you are just coming in to chat for 30 minutes, and it isn’t about a particular role, this is still an interview. Dress your best, show up a few minutes early, and be prepared. Unlike a job interview where you get asked questions, this is your turn to drive the conversation. So plan ahead and come with a long list of questions. Some of my personal favorites are:

  • Why do your customers choose this company? What is your competitive advantage?
  • If you had it to do all over again are there opportunities you would have been on the lookout for or other things you would have tried?
  • What were the keys to your own professional advancement?
  • What do you see as the future of the OD field?

For some other good questions, take a look at:

Informational Interview Questions
Questions to Ask at the Informational Interview
Informational Interview Questions to Ask

Once the interview is over, send a thank you note and remember to follow up. You might not have a job with them today, but the goal is to develop a deeper professional relationship that you could call upon down the road.
 
Good luck and let us know how your informational interviews go!

About the author: Kristine Dunn is part of MassBayODLG


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