Interested in a new career area but unsure if it is a good fit to your skills, interests and values?
Applying to job postings but aren’t getting interviews?
Going on interviews but not landing the job?
Information interviews provide an excellent opportunity to learn about new careers and source organizations that might be hiring. These interviews are typically 20-30 minutes in length and are focused on obtaining information about a specific career path.
Prior to setting up an information interview, know what you want to accomplish. You can use these meetings to investigate a new career area, clarify your career options, obtain advice on whether your training and experience match potential hiring managers needs (within your current organization or beyond), learn about the issues and challenges facing individuals in that career area, discover what skills are in demand, or assess if your skills and experience match that hiring manager’s future needs.
Asking for an Information Interview
Whether via email or telephone introduce yourself using your Elevator Pitch. Mention why you are calling and what you need. Follow this with a request to take the contact for coffee.
Who I am:
“My name is _______ and I am (provide your Elevator Pitch).”
Why I am calling:
“I am researching the (provide the name of their sector) to assess if it has a need for (name your area of expertise).”
What do I need:
“I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to get your advice as to whether my background is a match to your department/organization/industry needs.”
Ask for the coffee:
“Would you be free to meet later this week or early next week for coffee?”
Conducting the Information Interview
Before the interview:
- Research the department/organization and individual you are meeting with. Google and LinkedIn are invaluable research tools.
- Write down the questions that you want to ask.
- Dress appropriately; be prepared to put your best foot forward.
During the interview:
- Initially thank them for their time. Then, state your purpose for the information interview and how it will assist you in your career transition.
- You are there to learn, so spend more time listening than talking. If you are talking most of the time, you are missing out on a great opportunity to capture the interviewee’s knowledge about the career area, and potential job openings.
- Adhere to the original time request of 20-30 minutes, as scheduled.
After the interview:
- Within 24 hours, send a thank-you note.
- Consider keeping the individual informed as to your career exploration progress.
- Stop and evaluate. Is this a career area of interest to you? Does it match your skills, values and interests? Ask, what is your next step if you want to pursue this area?
Suggested Questions to Ask during your Information Interview
- Tell me about your own career path and how you landed this opportunity.
- What are the biggest priorities for someone in this role?
- When hiring, what are the key skills and experience you are looking for?
- What are the challenges facing your division, organization and this industry/sector?
- What are the key projects or burning issues facing your division that you don’t have the resources to deal with?
- What companies are growing and perhaps hiring, and which are downsizing?
- Would you mind reviewing my resume to assess if my skills and experience align with needs in this type of role, and if I have any skill gaps that need developing?
- What would you recommend I do to transition into this career area? What skills do I need to further develop? Please suggest some strategies to develop these skills.
- Do you know of any other individuals or organizations I should be talking with?
- You have reinforced my interest in pursing this career area. Is there anyone you could recommend I talk with that might require someone with my experience?
Author: Joanne Loberg of JL Careers Inc. is a Certified Executive Coach and Internationally Certified Career Management Professional. She specializes in working with professional and executive clients to provide job search strategies and tools to help them advance their careers. Copyright JL Careers Inc. All rights reserved.
Being overlooked by hiring managers?
Connect today for a complimentary 20-minute telephone Career Consultation to determine what’s getting in the way and devise strategies to support you reaching your career goals. I specialize in helping professionals and executives with career advancement tactics, professional resumes and cover letters, compelling LinkedIn profiles and interview practice.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional