Do’s and Don’ts for Information Interviews

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You’ve heard about information interviews, but have you ever actually done one?  An information interview is a structured form of networking that allows you to make strategic connections while also uncovering valuable information about your target industry.  Here are some tips that will help you conduct effective information interviews:

Do come prepared. You are going to get a lot more out of this meeting if you take the time to prepare for it.  Do your research on the company and the industry and don’t ask them questions about things that you can find out on your own.  They are going to take you a lot more seriously if they can see that you’ve done your homework.

Do show appreciation. Keep in mind that meeting with you is probably not benefiting this person’s career.  However, they are still willing to spend their time talking to you.  Let them know that you appreciate their willingness to share their knowledge and experience.

Do try to learn as much as you can.  There is so much that you can learn from information interviews; you can learn about the organization, the industry, and the occupation.  You don’t get this opportunity everyday, so get as much knowledge as you can.

Do be professional.  This isn’t a job interview, but it is an opportunity to make a valuable connection for your network.  Dress professionally, show up on time, take notes, and be respectful.  If you make a positive impression on people who work in your industry, you never know what doors it might open for you.

Don’t ask for a job.  Some employers refuse to give information interviews because they don’t want to be put in the awkward position of having someone ask for a job that doesn’t exist.  Information interviews are a valuable source of information and potential contacts.  Don’t ruin it.

While it would be ideal to uncover a job opportunity during an information interview, the industry-specific information that you receive will probably be worth more to you.  People who work in the industry can help you determine where to focus your energy and what you need to do to achieve your goal.  If you are willing to listen, an information interview may open you up to possibilities that you had never considered.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Holohololand at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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