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What is an informational interview?​

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An informational interview is an invaluable tool for ambitious professionals looking to progress their career. It involves talking to an individual who has experience in a specific field, such as a company, a profession, or a particular industry. The goal of the informational interview is to gain knowledge and insight into the particular field that the individual is interested in pursuing.

The informational interview offers a unique opportunity to learn from the experiences of someone who has already been successful in a specific field. This gives aspiring professionals the chance to ask questions, get advice, and gain valuable insights into the industry. By asking questions and listening to the answers, ambitious professionals can gain a better understanding of the field, the job market, and the career opportunities available to them.

Table of Contents

The Importance of Informational Interviews

As a job seeker, informational interviews can be the game-changer in your job search.  It can act as a valuable tool for expanding your network, learning more about industries and careers, and discovering opportunities you might not have found through traditional job search methods.

By talking to professionals in the field, ambitious professionals can build relationships that can be beneficial in the future. Through these relationships, aspiring professionals can learn about job openings, discover new opportunities, and gain access to resources that can help them advance their career.

However, asking for an informational interview can be daunting, especially when reaching out to busy professionals.  The good news is that most people are eager to share their time and knowledge with job seekers. By approaching the request in the right way, you can increase your chances of landing the meeting.

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Follow These Steps to Secure An Informational Interview

Say Who Sent You

Mentioning a common connection can increase the chances of a professional making time for you. If you were referred by someone they know, include the name of your referral in the subject line of your email. Repeat their name in the body of the email and explain why they encouraged you to reach out.

Describe What You Want

Informational interviews are not about asking for a job, but about gathering information and making connections. Reassure your target that you are not seeking employment, and be explicit about what you hope to gain from the interview. Rather than asking to “pick their brain,” focus your ask on specific topics or questions you have about their profession or experience.

Set a Tme Limit

Time is a major deciding factor for busy professionals, so make it clear that you are only looking for a small piece of their schedule. Limit your request to no more than 30 minutes, and be upfront about the time frame you have in mind.

Include Your Resume and/or LinkedIn Profile

Although you are not applying for a job, sharing your resume provides context for your conversation and saves time during the interview. Consider including links to your professional portfolio, website, or LinkedIn profile in your email signature or within a sentence in the body of your email.

Be Flexible with Time and Location

Offer a general window for when you would like to meet, but be flexible and allow your target to determine the exact time and place. Consider offering to meet them in their office or at a nearby coffee shop.

Follow Up

If you haven’t heard back, don’t panic or take it personally. Consider following “the rule of three,” by sending three follow-up emails spaced four or five business days apart. If you still don’t hear back after the third attempt, it’s time to move on.

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Best Practice

Informational interviews can be a valuable tool for job seekers, but it’s important to approach them in the right way. By following these steps and making the most of your email request, you can increase your chances of securing an informational interview and making new connections in your desired field.

If you haven’t heard back, don’t panic or take it personally. Consider following “the rule of three,” by sending three follow-up emails spaced four or five business days apart. If you still don’t hear back after the third attempt, it’s time to move on.

With these steps in mind, here is a sample email for requesting an informational interview:

Subject Line: Request for Informational Interview / Writing at the Suggestion of [Referral Name]

Dear [Interviewee Name],

I am reaching out to you because [Referral Name] suggested that I speak with you about [specific topic]. [Referral Name] mentioned that you have extensive experience in the [industry/field] and I would love the opportunity to learn from your experiences and insights.

I am currently exploring [career/industry] and would greatly appreciate the chance to ask you a few questions and hear about your journey. I am not looking for a job, but rather hoping to gain a better understanding of the [industry/field] and the challenges and opportunities within it.

Would you have 15 to 30 minutes for a chat in the next few weeks? I am flexible with the time and location, and would be happy to come to your office or meet you at a nearby coffee shop if that’s more convenient. I have attached my resume for your reference.

Thank you in advance for considering my request. I am looking forward to hearing back from you soon.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

What are bahavioural interview questions? The job interview process can be nerve-wracking for any candidate, but perhaps even more so for those …

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