Thursday, December 31, 2009

From Informational Interviews to Job Offers

What is an informational interview?

An informational interview is a meeting where a job seeker asks for advice rather than employment. Rather than get a job offer, a job seeker uses an informational interview to:

1. Learn more about a company or job function
2. Inquire about job leads
3. Network

For job seekers, informational interviews can secure meetings with managers, shape positive first impressions, and develop relationships that may pay off in the future. Managers are open to informational interviews because:

1. They do not require a big time investment. Informational interviews can be done during lunch or during an afternoon coffee break.
2. They can give managers an opportunity to identify new talent, either for now or in the future, without a formal recruiting process.
3. Informational interviews allow managers to give advice.
Who doesn’t like to have their ego stroked?

Seven Secrets to Successful Informational Interviews

Here are my tips on how you can succeed in your informational interviews:

■ How to ask for an informational interview. After you’ve identified who you want to meet, ask friends, family, ex-coworkers, & fellow alums if they have contacts at a certain company or a particular line of work. Utilize social networking tools, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, to find contacts. In the introduction e-mail, keep it short and simple. Provide some background information on yourself and explain why you want to meet.
■ Clearly define what you want to get out of the meeting. If you don’t know what you want, the person on the other side of the table will have a hard time helping you. I’d recommend going for easy wins such as learning more about a company or a job function. So prepare questions such as: “What do you like working for company X?” or “When you think about successful folks in position Y, what made them successful?”

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