Typically, when job seekers reach the interview stage, both parties are prepared with the information to perform professionally. However, a traditional job interview may not provide the full picture of a given position or allow job seekers to be fully prepared. Informational interviews provide a way for potential interviewees to get inside information about their intended career track. They also can be useful to create a network of career professionals in your chosen industry.
What is an Informational Interview?
An informational interview is a series of questions that provide entry-level job seekers an opportunity to get inside information about a career path they’re interested in.
Whether you’re preparing for a job interview or you’ve been approached by a hopeful novice in your field for an interview, it’s important to understand that an informational interview is not necessarily a prelude to a job interview or position in the company. It’s a meeting that provides a qualified individual with the opportunity to connect with a mentor that can share inside information about a chosen industry. Learning how an industry professional achieved their current role, can help you map a path for your future.
The 5 Most Common Informational Interview Questions
No matter which side of an informational interview you’re on, you should know what to expect and how to maximize the effectiveness of the short amount of time the meeting provides. A list of open-ended questions that provides the interviewee with an opportunity to provide a wealth of important information works best. Use these questions and potential answers to get the most out of your informational interview.
How Did You Break into the Industry?
This open-ended question will provide you with important details about entry-level jobs in the industry and allow the professional to lead the conversation with both personal and career details. Be prepared to follow up with more specific questions if necessary. These may include questions about education, internships, and entry-level positions in the field.
Answer: Depending on the amount of time your interview allows, you may learn a wealth of information here. Your mentor may share facts about their education, early internships, mentors, and entry-level positions.
What Strategies do you Recommend for Someone Hoping to Enter Your Field Today?
This is the information you need to take your next job interview to the next level. Frequently, positions are available but not advertised. This question could lead you to the inside track of how to find future opportunities in the industry. Take notes so you can follow up in the future.
Answer: Whether today’s job market requires different strategies than in the past, or you receive advice based on a personal career path, the answer to this question provides you with some of the most valuable information to advance your career. If you have time, this provides a good opportunity to discuss the methods you are already using.
Can You Take a Look at My Resume?
It’s never a bad idea to have a copy of your job resume or portfolio available during an interview. Still, you should be prepared to wait for an answer if time isn’t on your side. You may be offered a chance to forward the resume for a more in-depth answer when your mentor has more time.
Answer: If time allows, a review of your resume can let you know how prepared you truly are for future job interviews. It can also save you both from repetitive information that wastes time. If there isn’t time to consider the information right away, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask if you can forward the resume at their convenience.
Do You Think I’m a Strong Candidate for an Entry-level Position in Your Field? Is There More I Could be Doing to Prepare?
This double-fold question will allow you to find out exactly how prepared you are for your next interview and if there are additional strategies that could give you an edge over the competition. Be prepared to take some criticism and use it wisely to improve future interviews. Whether your resume could use an upgrade or you could stand to pad your education with additional courses, taking the time to get the proper start will pay off in the future.
Answer: This is a great time to get an inside look at the details of your potential career path. Most positions look different from an outside point of view. You may learn things your resume should include that would make an entry-level candidate stand out.
What’s the Best Way to Contact You in the Future?
When it’s time to close your interview, getting permission to contact your interviewee in the future provides you with an ongoing professional connection in your chosen industry. Asking for a specific form of contact gives you the opportunity to show that your value their time and preferences, while assuming you’ll be able to keep the connection alive. Note: Your first communication should be to thank your interviewee for meeting you.
Answer: Earlier topics in the interview may lead to the natural answer to this question. Whether your mentor has agreed to talk more in the future or simply wishes to be polite may be the best way to navigate the answer to this question. If you’ve already committed to sharing more information, your mentor will likely share a preferred contact method and an estimated time when they’ll be in touch. Otherwise, you may be given a business contact.
An informational interview is a great way for potential job seekers to gather valuable information about an industry they’re interested in. It also provides professionals with potential applicants for open positions in the future. An informational interview is the first step to building a career network in your chosen industry. Understanding how to conduct an interview and what not to do during an informational interview can help you get the start you need. To learn more about landing the job of your dreams, visit our website today. You can find current job openings, assess your professional strengths and build the perfect career.