■ Getting a job should not be your immediate goal. Job seekers often ask for a job at the beginning. Resist that temptation. If the manager does have a job, asking for it at the beginning is premature, especially if you haven’t proven yourself. If he or she does not have a job, you and the manager have to overcome the early letdown. Instead, focus on asking good questions and creating a good impression. Then, at the end, do ask if the manager is hiring, but don’t push it.
■ Go with the flow. Some managers use the informational interview as an informal job interview. If the manager wants to deviate from your prepared list of questions and ask you more formal job questions, let him or her do so. Who knows? You might get a job offer at the end of the interview.
■ Prepare, prepare, prepare. Informational interview can range from an informal career chat to a structured interview. Prepare for any scenario. Have those general career questions ready, and at the same time, don’t be surprised if the interviewer asks tough questions like “What’s your biggest weakness?” Remember the saying, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
■ Dress for success. It’s always worth reminding: dress professionally.
■ Don’t forget to follow-up and send the thank you letter. Don’t forget to send a thank-you e-mail or letter after the informational interview. In addition, send updates every couple of weeks. The manager invested time into your career; he or she will be interested in your progress. And who knows, that manager may not have had openings a while ago, but he or she may be hiring now.
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Lewis Lin is an interview coach at Seattle Interview Coach.
Lewis is passionate about helping job seekers with difficult interview questions and crafting responses that will help them succeed in their interviews. As a hiring manager for Google and Microsoft, he’s interviewed over 150 candidates for marketing, product management, and product planning roles. He received his Masters of Business Administration from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and his Bachelor’s in Computer Science from Stanford University. You can follow Lewis on Twitter