An interview, in general, brings out a sense of fear and nervousness in an interviewee, but there is one type of interview that replaces the fear with the joy of more knowledge. I am talking about the informational interview. This is a meeting with a person from any particular industry you are interested in, to discuss and find out information, either in a specific position or about the company or the industry itself. Let me make it very clear at the beginning itself; this is not a job interview.
Well if that is the case, then why waste time doing such a thing? – you may be asking me this; I, however, have substantial knowledge of this, which when I share with you in this write up, will leave you wanting to conduct this sort of an interview instantly.
The primary intention of having a meeting of this sort is to help gain direction and clarity in one’s career path. As a novice in the corporate world you or even later down the line, you may not be sure of the direction you want to move in. Or perhaps you could be unsure of whether you have taken the right choice in being associated with a certain organization. In that case, if you have insights into the workings of a specific role, company or industry, it becomes easier for you to make the decision.
The things that you are enlightened about, at an interview such as this include, the roles, and responsibilities of a particular position, the thought processes or the work ethics of a company, the satisfaction of working at that company and industry, etc. To me this seems to be like a tour inside the kitchen of a restaurant, the glitz and glamour of the restaurant may look tempting from the outside, but after you find out how things are working on the inside, you might not want to dine there.
On a serious note, an informational interview is entirely true to its name and having attended one of this, the one thing you will surely gain is – the confidence to face a formal job interview. Now, this is done for the sole benefit of the candidate on a job hunt; hence you will have to put in all efforts to seek a person who is ready to give you this interview. LinkedIn can be your saviour in this regard. Use your contacts and networking skills, send requests to people of senior positions in any company that you want to join. Friends, friends of friends, family – make use of all the people you know to get a breakthrough; surely someone will respond positively. Also, you may have attended business meetings where you exchanged numbers with people of other companies or even a job fair; it’s time to use these contact numbers.
The importance of this interview type is realized only after you have successfully attended one, however, let me enumerate for you some of the benefits you can expect before you appear for the face to face conversation.
Knowing the worth of an informational interview, you should not overlook it or undermine its usefulness. And just as you prepare for a formal job interview, this type of interview too needs to follow a code of decorum. Once you have decided which is the industry that interests you the most, do a research and find out the companies you would want to be a part of, then shake up the basket of your known human resources. Try and secure an interview. After that, prepare the questions you would like to ask, beforehand, so that you do not get confused and end up annoying your interviewee. Also, keep a little knowledge of the company you are approaching, which shows your serious interest.
Be as courteous as you would be at a proper job interview, even though this may be a tad bit informal and as soon as the interview is over, send in a thank you note to appreciate their kind gesture of spending so much time with you.
That is about it, take complete advantage of this exceptionally effective tool of the informational interview and keep your understanding and wisdom alive. Who knows you may realize that the job that you had been harbouring as your dream job for so many years may not be the best suited for you. All the best!