The Power of Informational Interviews

It always amazes me that people either have no clue what informational interviews are or they discount them completely. I first learned about them at business school and believe that they are powerful tools to use during any job hunt.

Informational interviews are exactly what you think they are – interviews conducted with the sole purpose of finding out more information. In my case, I’ve been using informational interviews to find out more about the events industry and its different niches, to learn more about different companies, to gain advice from various events professionals and to build a network of contacts. After all, it’s very often not what you know but who you know.

There are a lot of benefits to asking for informational interviews…

  • Companies, and more importantly the key people in the companies, are usually more than happy to meet with you. (My success rate is about 95%).
  • You get your face, name, and brand known to the right people.
  • You build a network of contacts that you can reach out to at anytime. (You also get access to their networks – Several people I’ve met with have subsequently introduced me to their contacts).
  • You get insider knowledge and gain insights you can’t anywhere else.
  • You hear about job opportunities before other people do and can apply for them before anyone else does.
  • You can practice your interview skills.
  • It can land you a job.

Informational interviews are also different every time. I’ve had a few interviews where it consisted solely of me asking the other person a series of questions and had a few interviews where the other person took charge of asking questions (and giving advice). I’ve had interviews last anywhere from 15 minutes to almost 2 hours long. They don’t need to be held in a formal office setting either. I’ve met with people in countless coffeehouses to over lunch to even over drinks.

The key is preparation. Know the person that you’re interviewing, know about their position, department and company. Prepare a list of intelligent questions to ask. In other words, treat an informational interview as a real interview… because often times, it can turn out to be one.

Oh, and don’t forget to send a thank you note afterwards. That’s just basic etiquette.

What has your experience been with informational interviews? Do you find them successful? A waste of time? Have you landed a job because of one? Let me know, I would love to hear from you.

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4 thoughts on “The Power of Informational Interviews

  1. Dillie says:

    Hey Priscilla,

    When I was exploring the world of social marketing (not social media marketing), I actually ended up contact the few experts there were in the field and got some great insight and resource to expand my knowledge base. The most prestigious of the group chatted with me for 2 hours and gave me a lot of insights into what’s NOT working in this relatively new field. It’s really help me shape my career to where I am today. I wouldn’t count on them to lead somewhere significant job-wise, but they are great for starting relationships that you could lean on for some job ops later on in your career, when you have a few years of experience under the belt.

    • Dillie says:

      excuse the typos. I’m typing semi-injured.

    • itspchan says:

      Sorry to hear about your injury Dal (what happened?). I agree – informational interviews are great for starting relationships that are beneficial career-wise (i.e mentors, advice or job ops later on). And I always like it when people tell me about what doesn’t work in the industry – that way, I don’t waste my time on it!

  2. […] remember when I talked about how powerful informational interviews were and how I think every job hunter should use them? Well, as of tomorrow, I will be gainfully […]

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