Written by Shilpi Banerjee, Employment Specialist with Next-Steps Employment Centre – Scarborough
An Information Interview is a conversation with a person who has expertise in your field of interest, to gain advice and information. These meetings can take place over the phone or in person, and will allow you to build a professional relationship while learning more about the position, company, and how to enter the field.
Information Interviews are a great networking opportunity that can help you to access 80% of jobs that are never advertised. But please DO NOT ASK FOR A JOB. If the person asks for your resume or wants to forward it to the hiring manager after your discussion, then take advantage of this golden opportunity, but this is for them to initiate. You may have hit the jackpot, with zero competition! At the very least, you will make an important networking connection and gain valuable information for your job search.
Steps to Conduct an Informational Interview:
- Conduct a search on careers that interest you and organizations that you are interested in working with.
- Consider any contacts you may already have to get you started: family, friends and social media contacts.
- Research the company before calling, to show your initiative and enthusiasm.
- Contact the organization by phone / email / LinkedIn / twitter, prepare a list of questions (samples below).
- Once connected to someone at the organization, state the type of field you are interested in finding out more about (clarify that you’re seeking information, not a JOB), and agree on the date, time & place to meet.
- Conduct the information interview: start by telling them a little about your professional background & why you are interested in their field, and then ask the questions you prepared. Take notes and remember to respect the agreed upon timeline for the meeting.
- Wrap up the session by asking if you can keep in touch and for names of one or two other people they would suggest you speak to for advice (referrals). This will help you to expand your networking contacts. Make sure you thank them for their time.
- Follow-up by sending an appreciative thank you note for their time and information. Ask if you can contact them to learn more about future opportunities. You can also send periodic messages to stay in touch, i.e. Wishing a Happy New Year.
Sample Script /E-mail Template to initiate Information Interview
Hello my name is _______. I am a newcomer with a business background. I am not currently looking for job but taking time to explore some career options. I am interested in horticulture and would like to get your advice and learn more about the field. Would it be possible to schedule 15-20 minute meeting with you at your convenience?
Dear _______, I am a recent Graduate from a Communications Program specializing in _______. I saw your profile in the LinkedIn Alumni group. I was wondering if you might be able to spend 15 -20 minutes of your time so I can ask you about your experience at ABC Company. I am exploring communications careers in the technology industry and your insight would be very helpful.
Sample Informational Interview Questions:
- How did you get into this position and what qualifications did you have?
- Could you describe a typical working day?
- What makes this field exciting to work in & what is the future outlook for this industry?
- What sort of personality traits would be conducive & advantageous to this position
- This is what I have done so far (explain steps), what advice do you have for me in trying to enter this field?
For more information, job search assistance, workshops, resources, hiring events, and much more, visit www.next-steps.ca.