INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW: Meaning, Guide, and How Conduct One

An informational interview is between a job seeker and a professional or hiring manager in their field of interest. The goal of the informational interview is not to get a job but to gain information about an occupation or study. It involves asking informational interview questions to learn about a particular field and networking opportunities.

However, if you are considering a career change or are curious about a line of work, conducting an informational interview is a great way to create a positive impression that could lead to future opportunities, such as a job or internship. Hence, this post will guide you on how to conduct one. Keep reading!

What Is An Informational Interview? 

Informational Interview

An informational interview is a meeting with experts to get information and advice about a particular field. For example, you can have an informational interview with a hiring manager. It can help you explore different career options, learn about the day-to-day grind, and gain insight into what it takes to be a successful professional. 

You can conduct informational interviews with families, friends, and professionals you have met through networking. And when meeting with a professional, it is crucial to come prepared with questions and to be respectful of the person’s time. Informational interviews are not opportunities to ask for a job but to gain information and advice.

What Is Another Name For an Informational Interview? 

Another name for an informational interview is a professional inquiry, educational meeting, or informational talk. It focuses on an informative topic(s), specialties, etc. Again, the interviewer asks questions to gain insights and perspectives from the interviewee. This type of interview helps you learn from someone with more experience.

What Happens In An Informational Interview? 

In an informational interview, you will typically ask an expert or hiring manager you are interviewing about their job duties, career path, and thoughts on the industry. You may also ask for advice on how to break into the field, or for tips on landing a job. In addition, this type of interview is usually informal, and it is a great opportunity to build your professional network.

How Do You Conduct An Informational Interview?

You should take the time to research the person(s) you would like to interview so that you can ask informed questions. 

Reach out to them and explain that you are interested in learning more about their career and would like to ask them a few questions. Most individuals are eager to assist and will be able to provide you with valuable information about the profession.

Then, set up a time to meet with them to conduct the informational interview. That is critical to be considerate of the other person’s time.

But before meeting the individual, you should come prepared with informational interview questions and take notes throughout the session to remember everything later. This shows you are serious about learning more about the field or occupation. 

Then, be polite and professional throughout the interview.

After the conversation, thank them for their insights.

What Type Of Questions Are Asked In An Informational Interview? 

  • You can ask Informational interview questions like:
  • What does a typical day look like for you?
  • How many years have you been in your field?
  • Tell me the aspects of your job that are most difficult?
  • Do you enjoy your job?
  • May I know the prospects that exist in your field?
  • Is there any significant current trends influencing your industry?
  • What advice would you provide to someone interested in your field?

What Is The Purpose Of An Informal Interview? 

The goal of an informal interview is to assist the employer in determining if the candidate is a suitable match for the organization and the role. It enables a potential employer to get to know the applicant well. This type of interview is usually less structured than a formal one and allows the employer to ask questions that do not relate to the job. 

Some Common Mistakes To Avoid When Conducting An Informational Interview

When conducting an informational interview, there are a few common mistakes that you should avoid. 

#1. Not researching

If you’re considering a new career, research what the role entails and if it’s a good fit. This involves reaching out to contacts and asking them questions about their work, career journey, and advice they would give to someone considering a similar path.

Not doing your research and instead relying on informational interviews alone can lead to making a hasty decision about a new career. You may not get an accurate sense of the roles or the day-to-day work. 

#2. No questions 

It’s a great way to learn about a particular career and get advice and information from someone already working in the field.

However, if you don’t have questions prepared, the informational interview might be a waste of time for you and the individual you’re interviewing. Make sure you have a list of questions before you meet with someone for an informational interview. That way, you can make the most of your time and learn everything you want.

#3. Making the conversation all about you 

It is not an opportunity to promote yourself or your work. However, many people make the mistake of making the conversation all about themselves. You may ask why?

First, it shows you’re unskilled and will likely turn the person you are interviewing off. It shows that you are not interested in learning about the other person or their career field. Finally, it makes you look like you are only interested in using the other person for your gain. 

If you want to conduct a successful informational interview, the conversation should be about the interviewee. Ask questions and pay close attention to the replies. This is the best way to learn about a particular job or career field and to make a good impression on the person you are interviewing.

#4. Less concerned on what the other person has to say 

You’re there to learn about the person and their career, and if you’re not interested, you won’t get anything out of the conversation. Additionally, the other person is likely to pick up on your lack of interest and be less likely to want to help you in the future. Therefore, even if your guest makes irrelevant points, always listen.

#5. You didn’t use thank you note 

If you don’t send a thank you note after an informational interview, your guest will see you as ungrateful or unprofessional. Take the time to write a thank you note to the person who took the time to meet with you and provide you with information. This simple act can show your appreciation and make a good impression.

How To Follow Up After An Informational Interview

Always follow up after an informational interview to thank the person who graciously gave their time and reiterate your interest in the company. You may accomplish this by providing a written thank-you note or an email. Following up within 24 hours following the interview is ideal.

In your follow-up, you should briefly mention vital points from your conversation and express how you can contribute to the company. For example, if the person you interviewed mentions that they are looking for someone with strong writing skills, you could tell a recent project you worked on that required excellent writing. This will help the person remember you and show that you are paying attention to the company’s needs.

What Is The Difference Between An Informational Interview And A Job Interview? 

There may be significant distinctions between an informational interview and a job interview. They are:

The most obvious difference is the purpose of the meeting. An informational interview is to gain information about a field, company, or position, while a job interview assesses a candidate’s qualifications for a specific job opening. 

Informational interviews are typically shorter and less formal than job interviews, as they are not focused on assessing qualifications. 

Finally, informational interviews typically involve meeting someone already employed in the field or company of interest, while job interviews involve meeting with a hiring manager or other representative from the company.

What Are 4 Major Benefits Of Informational Interviews?

Informational interviews are approaches to learning about an industry or organization. You can network with specialists who may provide guidance and mentoring. The following are four advantages of informational interviews:

#1. Gain first-hand knowledge about a particular field or company.

If you want to learn more about a particular field or company, the best way to do so is to gain first-hand knowledge. This involves shadowing someone that works in the field or company or doing an internship. For instance, observing and participating in day-to-day activities will help you learn great things about that particular field or company. This first-hand knowledge will be much more valuable to you than any amount of research you could do on your own.

#2. Develop relationships with professionals who can offer advice and mentorship.

Building ties with people who can provide guidance and mentorship is vital. You can obtain insights into your chosen sector or company by developing these ties. Additionally, these professionals can provide guidance and advice on your career journey. Furthermore, informational interviews can also lead to potential job opportunities.

#3. Learn about job openings and other opportunities that might be a good fit.

An informational interview is a perfect way to obtain information about job openings and other possibilities. It involves interviewing someone who works in the field or organization that interests you, to learn more about what the job entails and what it is like to work there. This can be a valuable way to connect with potential employers and acquire information about open positions, as well as get insights into the culture and day-to-day operations of the organization.

#4. Get your foot in the door with your preferred company or organization

This is where you interview someone who works for the company or organization to learn more about what they do, what the company culture is like, and what it’s like to work there. It can be a great way to get your foot in the door with a company or organization you’re interested in, as it shows that you’re motivated and interested in learning more about them. Additionally, it’s a great way to network and connect with people who work for the company or organization.

What is the Purpose of an Informational Interview?

The main goal of an informational interview is to get work from a major corporation’s branch office equipment.

  1. WHAT TO SAY IN AN INTERVIEW: Tips on What To Say
  2. EXIT INTERVIEW: Tips for Conducting an Exit Interview (+Example questions)
  3. STAY INTERVIEWS: Tips for Conducting Stay Interviews (+Example questions)
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