I wrote a post recently in which I suggested that an elite class of employed folks wasn’t doing its solemn duty. The duty? To play a proactive and positive role to support the effort of job seekers. Are you a member of the employed elite?
- You learn vital information about a company, industry or management team. This is the primary value that should be understood by both parties. It can help you determine whether or not your experience/skills are a good match. You may actually find that the best result of an informational interview is that you don’t think there’s a match. Good to know.
- By doing the above well, you leave a positive impression with a key and potentially influential person in your target company or industry.
- You may learn of others with whom you can have a similar discussion. On some occasions, you may even get a few job leads.
Notice that I didn’t include “get a job”? That’s because informational interviews are one of the building blocks of a strong job search networking effort. So you have to have a lot of patience here.
So, here are the 5 keys to successful information interviews. If you’d like to talk to me about any of the above . . .
- COMMUNICATE WELL Send me a nice note on Linkedin or regular e-mail. In the note, tell me how you found me (referral, Linkedin, etc). Introduce yourself (and don’t start with “I’m in transition”). Tell me what your objectives are in wanting to talk. Have someone else read the note to see if the tone is right. Positive and thankful vs. desperate and demanding. :-) Suggest a few times that will work for you (so I can choose one) and offer to meet me anywhere (my office is often good/easy or a local Starbucks). Be clear about how much time you need (30 minutes feels right to me).
- MIND YOUR P’s and Q’s Be on time and dress appropriately. I don’t personally need you in business dress, but it should either match my dress or at least be a nice business casual. Some may expect you in a suit. Have a resume, but don’t give it to me unless I ask for it.
- STICK TO YOUR OBJECTIVES Re-read your note to me before you arrive and stick to those objectives unless I open up other avenues with you. This is the first risk for you in information interviews. If you pull a “bait and switch”, I will not feel good about you. My mindset will change very quickly and, even more important, my interest in helping you will diminish.
- DON’T ASK FOR A JOB Do not, under any circumstances, ask for a job or inquire about possible positions opening in the near future. This is the second risk and is truly the nuclear option. Because it can destroy the good faith partnership we started. But, no fear. You know why? I already know that you are looking for a job. So if you follow these guidelines and leave me feeling “appropriately utilized”, I will want to help you find one. It is OK to ask (at the end) if there is anyone else that I think you may benefit from meeting. Again, assuming that you will follow these same rules. If you do it right with me then lose your scruples with my network, I will pay the price. And so will you. If you do meet with a friend of mine based on my recommendation, follow up with me and let me know how it went. That may prompt a communication about you with my network. Buzz is good!
- SAY THANK YOU Say a hearty “thank you” and follow up with one (written is nice but an e-mail is OK too). After our introduction, I would also be open to your asking to connect on Linkedin. You can also ask: “how can I help you?”
So, what can you expect after our meeting? Well, maybe nothing. If you are disappointed then you still don’t get it.
Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
Tags: Career | information | interviews | Job Search | leads | resume | Social Networking
Categories: Job Interview Tips And Questions