Susie Buysse, Associate Director
In my work with TMMBA students, we sometimes talk about the difference between the classic informational interview versus an effective informational meeting in job search.
An informational interview is a meeting that you schedule with practicing professionals for the purpose of learning more about their jobs. This type of interview provides a rare opportunity to gain invaluable, up-to-date knowledge about a specific business or industry from an “insider.”[i]
Informational interviewing can be really hard work! You need to leave the interview and be satisfied to have made a new contact in person and received a wealth of new information, not knowing if anything else meaningful will come from the effort.
When conducting a job search, your ultimate goal is to connect with the decision-makers at your target companies. Your approach should be different. The goal is to build trust in order to determine if this company is a good fit or (if already determined) navigate to others who can assist in search. Remember this person has the power to refer based on a positive first impression.
- You will be judged on the quality of questions asked so the homework is essential. It definitely will show and speaks to credibility. For example, the interviewer asks “What do you know about the mission of this organization?” (What if you can’t immediately articulate? It’s also probably on the company website.)
- It is important to put the interviewee at ease; it’s critical in making a good impression (relates to trust). Never risking putting them on the spot! Some questions could tend to do this, including questions on compensation and hiring plans. It puts the interviewer (job-seeker) back in the credibility swamp….Is this individual quickly looking for a job or foot in the door?
- Bring a resume and share if asked. Do not ask for a job. Bring and share your professional summary instead.
- Remember these are informational meetings. When talking to someone, make it clear that you are not asking for a job. (If one of your leads knows of a position and is interested in hiring you, he or she will certainly mention it.)
- Also, if you’re lucky enough to uncover a “star” contact in the right department of a company you’d most love to work for; don’t call him or her first! Instead, talk to people farther out from your “career bull’s eye.” That way, you’ll gain practice with your lower-risk contacts. And by the time you call your star, you’ll be that much more confident and knowledgeable. [ii]
[i]Lorenz, K. How Does an Informational Interview Work. CareerBuilder.com. Retrieved from http://www.careerbuilder.com/Article/CB-481-Getting-Ahead-How-Does-an-Informational-Interview-Work/
Content developed by S. Buysse and A. Girarde.