By Danielle Tucker, 2017 AgCareers.com Marketing Intern
Informational interviews are meetings that job seekers can utilize with employers to find out more information, ask advice, and seek answers. They also allow employers to get to know a potential candidate for a position in the company. Although, it is important to know that this is not a job interview and your goal is to gather information and network rather than finding job openings.
As a job seeker, it can be difficult to get an interview if the employers have several resumes to sort through. Utilizing informational interviews can work to your advantage, however, they can also help a company eliminate you from their pile of papers. To decide whether or not you should pursue an informational interview, examine the pros, cons, and guidelines.
Pros of Informational Interviews
• Find out information you need about the position that is not in the job description
• Gain a professional network
• Stand out as an applicant
• Learn the work culture and see if you would truly enjoy working at that company
• Calm your nerves prior to a real interview if offered one
• Get advice and tips about the career path you desire
• Understand what your future life might look like based on lifestyles of people who have already been down the career path
Cons of Informational Interviews
• It takes a lot of preparation time and organization to run an informational interview properly
• If the information interview is not impressive to the employer, they may not feel you are not a good fit for the position prior to a real interview.
• They may ask you questions such as what you might be looking for in a career
• You must still conduct yourself as a professional during the interview
• Extra effort such as thank-you and follow-up letters should be considered
To plan for a proper informational interview, use these guidelines to help you. If you decide to reach out to your employer to conduct an informational interview, you want to be well prepared for what you will be facing.
Plan your meeting.
Create an agenda and make sure you have a set list of things you would like to talk about. This shows engagement and interest from your end. Remember you asked to set up the meeting so don’t show up without a plan. Write down a list of questions you might have for the person you meet with.
Dress and act as if you are in a real interview. You want to impress the person you are meeting with.
Don’t show a lack of interest in the position even if it doesn’t seem fit for you. You never know, they may have other positions open that you could qualify for.
Although it is not an interview, they might ask you about your interests and what you are looking for in a career. Be ready to answer questions thrown your way.
Show up on time.
This is not the time to be late to a meeting that YOU set up. Make sure you arrive early to show that you are an accountable person.
You set up an informational interview to get information so be sure to ask questions, listen, take notes, pay attention, etc. Put the distractions away so you can fully engage in the conversation.
Informational interviews will take extra effort from you to set up and run appropriately. It may be difficult for you to meet up with someone you don’t know and talk about their work. However, going the extra-mile might be worth getting your foot in the door to your future career. Insight to career paths can be extremely beneficial to the decisions you will make later down the road.
Here are some interviewing basics to know before trying an informational interview.