One of the best ways to find out what an industry, company, or position
is really like is to talk with people in careers you’re considering. No one else can give you a better sense of the real life experiences, the challenges and opportunities, the specifics and perhaps hidden demands, and the drawbacks and limitations of the career field. One of the challenges of informational interviews is that it is all up to you to set them up. This takes a level of proactiveness and intentionality towards your career interests.
What Is An Informational Interview?
An information interview is a focused information gathering session with a networking contact to help you choose or refine your career path by giving you an insider point of view. These interviews are similar to job internships in that you get a perspective from someone who has the experience you hope to gain. Just like an internship, you want the experience from an area you are unfamiliar with.
What Are The Benefits?
Richard Bolles describes the process as “trying on jobs to see if they fit you.” He notes that most people choose a career path without taking the time to speak with professionals in their field of interest. As a result, they find themselves in careers that are not a true match for their skills, values, and abilities.
Information Interviews Allows You To…
- Gather valuable information from industry professionals on career planning and job search strategies
- Discover the “realities” of a particular career field
- Evaluate whether a career is compatible with your skills, knowledge, experience, interests and lifestyle
- Develop confidence in interviewing with professionals by discussing your interests and goals
- Gain access to the hidden job market
- Expand your network of contacts in your field of interests for future opportunities
Who Are These Interviews For?
Informational interviews are for all people. They are appropriate for first year students through alumni. If you are in the process of choosing a career or beginning a job search, this can be an excellent tool to explore your options.
Topics To Discuss
- Work Environment
- Industry Trends
- Ideal Skill Set/ Qualifications
- Challenges/ Rewards
- Typical Compensation
The informational interview is such an important topic that people don’t take enough advantage of, that I will be doing a two part segment on this. In part II, I will cover what is acceptable in an informational interview, how to prepare, and what happens after. If you have any questions on the informational interview, send them this way and will try to answer them in part II or maybe part III if needed.