Posted on Mar 22, 2012 @[email protected]

In today’s tough job market, interviews have become increasingly difficult to land.  Fewer job openings means fewer opportunities to meet new people and make new professional connections.  If you’re having some trouble getting your feet wet consider soliciting for informational interviews.

An informational interview is one in which you, the less experienced worker, question a more experienced and thus knowledgeable person in an occupation you’re interested in.  Informational interviews provide you with new insights into different careers and provide you with new contacts.  If you impress the person you are interviewing they are likely you to think of you when the hear about relevant opportunities that open up.  So how do you go about landing an informational interview?

Make it be known that you are someone worth taking the time to meet.

Introduce a potential employer to a person of interest or let them know about a relevant event they may benefit from.  Utilize your personal connections, have a friend introduce you to someone you may be interested in having an interview with.  Consider any professional networks you may have including alumni networks and Linkedin.  If you don’t have any sort of connections try sending a friendly email to the person of interest.  Remember some people may be more open to the idea of an informational interview than others so don’t be too forceful about it.  Once you’ve landed an interview, review what you should expect and how you can prepare?

One benefit to an informational interview is that they are typically less stressful experiences.  You are in control of an informational interview, which means you are the one asking the questions.

This takes some pressure off of the employer and allows you to ask questions you really want to know the answers to.  Moreover you don’t have to worry about discussing logistics such as salary range and hours.  This will give you good experience and help you build self-confidence for future interviews.  It also gives the employer a chance to talk about what he or she does.

You should be sure to show up to the interview prepared and looking professional.  Dress as you would to any other business meeting, just because there isn’t a job on the line doesn’t mean the stakes aren’t high, that being said you don’t want to be overdressed.  Be sure to arrive on time if not early and know the name and the title of the person you are meeting with.

Come prepared with a list of questions you want to ask.  Remember that you want to build a connection and learn about the position and industry.  Ask them about their career and how they got into this position.  In conjunction with those questions you’ll probably want to ask what you can do to land a job in their industry and how you can improve your chances of being hired.  They are likely to have great advice and will appreciate your interest. You’ll also want to ask what they do on a day-to-day basis and want to get the details about their job.  Be sure to give them time to talk and be prepared to answer questions they may have for you.

Remember that they are doing you a favor by meeting with you.  Be sure to stay in the designated time slot they have so graciously granted you and be sure to send them a personalized thank you note a day or so later.

Robert Boroff Executive Profile Managing Director Reaction Search International

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