Exploring Career Options
One of the best ways to explore various career options is with an informational interview. These interviews may not yield immediate job offers, yet they serve as a source of real world information about a particular field, occupation, or company that has piqued your curiosity. Whether you’re currently navigating the job market or aiming to delve into future career possibilities, informational interviews act as a treasure trove of knowledge and potential opportunities. They can provide guidance, answers to your many questions, a chance to network with potential connections and to explore various career options.
Here are four fundamental steps to lay the groundwork for a successful and productive informational interview.
Research the Company or Profession
Entering the interview with a basic understanding of the subject matter is crucial. You don’t want to squander precious interview time probing for general information that’s readily accessible online.
If your informational interview pertains to a specific company, familiarize yourself with its goals and objectives. Insights into the company’s mission statement and culture should be obtainable from their website. If a company has caught your attention, chances are you already possess a broad understanding of their operations. Nevertheless, arming yourself with detailed knowledge prior to an informational interview allows you to pose thoughtful, nuanced questions that aren’t answered online, and to actively engage in any discussion about the company.
Similarly, if your informational interview is career-specific rather than company-centric, strive to obtain basic information about the profession. What are the fundamental qualifications? Where do professionals in this field typically find employment? With the groundwork laid, you can delve deeper during the interview, probing into what a standard day entails and the journey leading the interviewee to their current role.
Prepare to Ask Good Questions
Remember, this is a quest for knowledge, not a job. Traditional job interviews demand prepared responses to the interviewer’s queries. However, in this context, you’re spearheading the conversation, seeking insights rather than providing them.
Ensure you have an arsenal of prepared questions. After laying the groundwork with basic research, you should have a clearer vision of what insights you’re seeking from the interview. Identify key areas of interest and draft three or four pertinent questions. However, maintain a flexible interview approach to allow the conversation to evolve organically.
Dress to Impress
Ensure you project a professional image during your informational interview. The meeting’s location will dictate your attire – a full business suit may not be necessary, but professionalism and neatness should be non-negotiable. Consider the informational interview as a casual meet-up with a potential employer; first impressions count.
Remember that the interviewee is devoting their time to address your questions and facilitate your career development, often without receiving anything in return. It’s essential to show your appreciation for their assistance in your career exploration. Express your thanks at the meeting’s conclusion and, if possible, follow up with a heartfelt thank you note. This gesture not only acknowledges their contribution but also helps solidify your professional connection.
Informational interviews are a gold mine of information, and as such, warrant serious preparation. They are one of the best ways to explore various career options. The effort you put into preparation before the interview is directly proportional to the insights you’ll gain about your career pathway. Be sure to browse through our other networking recommendations here.