Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Informational interviews

Informational "interviews" are not just for when you're seeking a job.

Actually - often the worst time to do an informational interview is when the person seeking work is more focused on finding an immediate opportunity than looking long-term... and the person on the other end of the coffee table then either feels guilty they have nothing to offer or feels tricked into a real interview. (there's little worse for a developing relationship than tossing in some guilt and angst)

If you are looking for work, be upfront. Tell folks this is about seeking a job now and that your questions will be about current opportunities. Be open about wanting to pre-sell yourself into a formal interview. Don't pass it off as "informational" and low-risk if you're really hoping for fast results. (this also goes for calling it "networking" when you're really job hunting; networks must be in place before using them to job search...)
A few thoughts:

1 - If you're truly seeking information with which you'll do some some career planning and decisions, assure your contact that you're not hitting them up for work but genuinely interviewing them about ideas and guidance.

2 - Come prepared with questions. Don't look blankly at your contact and hope they offer a gem.

3 - Ensure your questions can't be answered by a little online research. Nothing says "lazy" like coming unprepared.

4 - Ask questions about cultural aspects "What approaches does your group take to find new ideas?" "What happens when an idea is obviously a failure?" "What's the top skill admired in your team today?"

5 - Be more interested in asking questions and seeking information than about making sure they know all about how terrific you are. You are interviewing them, not the other way around. However, if they start with questions, ask honestly "Would you like to make this a two-way interview? I'm happy to sell myself!"

6 - Have a clear outcome for the interview: Do you need enough information to decide if you might be interested in the industry /company at some date? Do you want a second connection? etc.

Think of the informational interview like the call setting up a first date. Don't ask for marriage. Don't ask for commitment /favours /don't taste stuff on their plate / don't sit in their lap. Simply see if you can have a conversation and see how far that takes you towards your goal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thaks for sharing these valuable tips.
Especially the part abut "don't camphoplage a job call with a coffee "

If you don't ask, you don't get!