Informational Interviews: What Are They And Why Should I Care?

For the next few weeks I want to talk about Informational Interviews. Today will focus on what they are and why they are so important for college students and early career professionals. Next week will be about how to do them and in the third blog I will share an example of how a client I worked with used informational interviews to help her clarify questions about her job search and ultimately how doing them helped her land her first job. Informational interviews are one of the best tools in a college student or new graduate’s tool kit as you get ready to launch your first job search or transition out of your first job. What are they? Simply put they are a request to talk with someone in a given field about:

  • Their experiences in the field, what they love and what they don’t love about their work,
  • How they started out in their career, how their career progressed over time and what kind of advice they would have for someone like you who is just getting started
  • What hiring managers look for in their company from people who are just getting started, and
  • Other people that they would recommend that you talk to learn more about the field
  • Etc. etc. etc.

These interviews give you information that helps on a lot of levels.

  • First of all you get information about your field of interest, like how people spend their time each day, who they work with, the kinds of results they are expected to produce, etc. This information can help you understand if this is work you are going to enjoy and be successful at.
  • They help you understand how others have built careers in the field, where they started and what moves were important to their future success.
  • They give you practice telling your story and interacting with professionals in a low risk situation.
  • You can get advice on your resume, on specific companies, and on trends in the industry.
  • The people you speak with can introduce you to others who may be in a position to hire you, or introduce you to someone who can introduce you to someone who is looking to fill a position.

For someone just starting out, you should do DOZENS of these. I can see your faces now – “DOZENS? I don’t know a dozen people in my chosen field – how am I going to find DOZENS of people to talk with – and HOW DO I DO THIS ANYWAY? DO I JUST CALL THEM OUT OF THE BLUE? “That’s what we will talk about next week. For now start making a list of people you know well enough to send an email telling them that you are ready to move out of college and into your career and you would be love to talk with them to get their advice and guidance. TRY AND GET 25 NAMES ON THAT LIST… …and in the meantime, if you have questions or concerns and you want to talk about them, go to the contact page on our website and send me an email with your question and how to reach you and we can set up a free 30 minute conversation.