Company culture. Career options. Future job openings. Informational interviews give you the inside scoop on your desired industry, company and career path. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of all jobs are found through networking. An informational interview is a no-pressure conversation that strengthens your professional relationships, increases your chances of getting a job and helps you get your foot in the door.
Here are several tips that will help you secure your next informational interview:
1. Initiate and Follow-Up
“Target specific people you want to speak with at a company you’re interested in working for.” – Andy Teach, a corporate veteran, said to Forbes.
Reach out to professionals you admire. It’s as simple as asking someone to grab coffee or speak over the phone. Do briefly introduce yourself, and be specific in why you contacted said professional. Be sure to show a genuine interest in this person, and demonstrate passion for his/her company. Also, make sure to follow-up after your informational interview. You’d be surprised by how many people drop the ball after first contact.
2. Stand Out
Leave a lasting impression. Be memorable. You’ll want to find common ground, like your alma mater or mutual contacts; however, feel free to show your personality. Mention things you’re interested in that don’t necessarily have to do with work, but will resonate with your interviewer or fit with the company’s culture. Show your passion and drive, other professionals will naturally gravitate toward that.
3. Connect on LinkedIn
“While 94% of recruiters are active on LinkedIn, only 36% of job seekers are.” - 2014 Job Seeker Nation Report.
LinkedIn is a great way to request informational interviews with recruiters and professionals who work for your dream companies. If you can’t send a message through LinkedIn because you’re not connected, recruiters usually have their contact information on their page. Remember to do your research! Collect as much information as you can about the company, career background and interests. You can also reach out to your network of contacts for referrals.
"And yet most people — they are spending 70 or 80 % of their time surfing the net versus getting out there, talking to employers, taking some chances [and] realizing that the vast majority of hiring is friends and acquaintances hiring other trusted friends and acquaintances." - Matt Youngquist, president of Career Horizons, said to NPR.
Nothing beats meeting someone in-person. Speakers and panel participants can be the best professionals to engage with due to their influence, knowledge and network. Use the face-to-face contact to exchange information, develop a professional relationship and, ultimately, nab an informational interview.