Congratulations! You’ve scheduled an informational interview with a key contact.
The date and location are set - but how do you get the most out of your conversation?
The secret to success is in preparation. Below are 8 tips to ace your next informational interview - and you can leave any fear of it being awkward at the door.
- Determine your goals. Identify what you want to achieve by the end of the meeting, write down, and ensure you hit on all points during your discussion. Is it to determine whether you would be a good cultural fit for a company? Maybe you are looking for guidance on how to apply for position.
- Know your interviewer. Do your research! An informational interview might as well be a soft screening (for both parties). Research your contact as you would for a formal job interview. Look him or her up on the web, read his or her blog articles or published pieces. The more you know about your contact, the easier it will be to converse on familiar topics, and the more likely your contact is to know you did your homework.
- Prepare your elevator pitch. It’s important to know your career goals and objectives, and to be able to communicate clearly them in less than 30 seconds. Practice your pitch in the mirror or with friends prior to your meeting. Your elevator pitch will be useful in situations beyond your informational interview.
- Bring copies of your most up-to-date resume. Make sure your resume is updated and polished, and bring several copies to your meeting. Your resume can serve as a discussion point as you present to your contact your career background and objectives. It also helps to send an electronic version (PDF) of your resume to your interviewer 2-3 days in advance of your meeting.
- Prepare 5-7 questions in advance. People love to talk about themselves! Jot down 5-7 questions for your contact that will also help you achieve your meeting goals - ask about what is most enjoyable about their job or company, what characteristics are possessed by ideal candidates, how you should go about applying for the job, etc.
- If you want a job with your contact’s company, speak up! Don’t be shy when meeting with your contact. If you know you want a job with their company, let that person know. Your contact is most likely busy and doesn’t have time to mind read, so take a direct approach by asking what next steps you should take to apply for the job.
- Follow up with a thank you. Always thank someone who gave you free advice! Write an email within 24-48 hours and, if you really want to stand out, send a handwritten note.
- Follow up regularly – without being a nag. If you’ve applied for a job at your contact’s company, send him or her an email with updates every 2-4 weeks on the application process. Share news of any upcoming interviews or feedback on ones that have taken place. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice on how to move forward if you have not yet heard back from a hiring manager.
If you’re looking to prepare for a job or informational interview, or need to update your resume and want to schedule a coaching session, contact Resume Buffalo today and check out our premiere coaching package!