05 Apr When TMI is a Good Thing — The Benefits of Informational Interviews
Whether you’re actively in the market for a new job, or just casually pondering looking for a new opportunity, you should consider doing informational interviews. The benefits are more significant than apparent, and they are great preparation for interviews for an actual position.
Here are some reasons to consider informational interviews:
Take the reins. First, it’s important to understand what informational interviews are. Informational interviews are not part of a hiring process. They are an opportunity for someone to simply gather information.
The great thing about that is without the pressure of trying to impress a potential employer, you can ask questions more freely. This might be more information about the specific company, the industry generally or to learn more about the kinds of roles in that business.
And usually the person who is considering or looking for a job, is asking most of the questions, instead of the other way around. This can be incredibly empowering, especially if you want a chance to ask “stupid questions” but are afraid to ask when there’s a job on the line.
Easy access (well, easier). Getting a job interview is tough. You have to find the job, complete the application or contact the company. You then have to hope that your resume or LinkedIn profile gets you the interview, or find an introduction to someone who can help you.
And then, you need to do a great job on the first interview, and possibly hope for a second round, or even third. The stakes are high; this is just one of a series of steps to get the position.
But an informational interview can be less work. For one, you don’t have to find a company with a posted position. In fact, you might be more successful if you reach out to a company that does what you find interesting, but isn’t actively looking for a job. Then you can make it clear that you’re not trying to get a job, you just want someone’s time (30 minutes is good; 45 minutes should be max) for a one-time meeting.
You can ask for an informational interview where there is an open position, but people may be wary that you’re trying to sneak in for a traditional interview. Also, if it’s a job you are interested in and they have an opening, you will have at the back of your mind that you need to impress. You are less likely to be able to have the same open conversation as an informational interview with a company with no open posts.
Informational interviews mean less pressure, not less professionalism
Just because you are doing an informational interview, doesn’t mean you should be casual or unprepared or late. Dress as if you are interviewing, do research on the company, and prepare thoughtful questions – not things that can be easily answered with a quick Internet search. Why take it so seriously? You never know if they have a position that isn’t posted, and an impressive interview could turn informational into actual. How great is that?