Global Mingle Party | Mastering the Informational Interview
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Informational Interviews

Mastering the Informational Interview

In American culture, it is normal to ask people in companies for informational interviews. An informational interview is a smart way to learn more about future jobs, company culture, while building professional relationships.
Informational interviews are not job interviews. They are not the interview that you get when you apply to a job. Those are called behavioral interviews. Instead, informational interviews allow you to be the interviewer!
Here’s the wikipedia definition:
An Informational Interview (also known as an Informational conversation) is a meeting in which a potential job seeker seeks advice on their career, the industry, and the corporate culture of a potential future workplace; while an employed professional learns about the job seeker and judges their professional potential and fit to the corporate culture, so building their candidate pool for future hires.
An informational interview generally last 20-30 minutes and take place over the phone, Skype, or in person. You ask people for an informational interviews by email.
Informational interviews are the most powerful tool in your job search. Remember employee referrals? Informational interviews help you become the person who is referred. Informational interviews are the top tool to help you find a job in the US. It is rare you to find a job in the US without doing informational interviews.
During informational interviews with professionals you discuss :
  • Career paths
  • Details about the company they work for
  • Trends in the industry they work in
  • Career advice
The purpose of the interviews is:
  • learn valuable information from your host
  • make a good impression
  • make a connection that may help you later in the job search
The goal is to not get a job. It’s unlikely the person you are talking to will have a job for you. The goal is to appear curious, smart, motivated and likable, so if a job that you qualify for opens up, the person can advocate for you. You want that person to be an advocate on the inside who can help get your resume to the top of the list.
By showing you are curious about the person, the company they work for, and are willing to learn everything you can through an informational interview, you demonstrate why you are a good future candidate for the company. The person you are interviewing knows you are a student and a job searcher. So you don’t need to ask for a job. If they like you and they have a job that matches your skill set and experience, they will let you know when an opportunity is available.
Informational interviews are the hardest to learn. Your success depends on your level of comfort reaching out to and talking with strangers. To many international students it feels weird to reach out to a stranger. In some cultures, it can feel wrong to ask a stranger for their time without an introduction first. As with all networking activities, this takes practice. But can definitely do this!
Like all networking activities, informational interviews are simply professional conversations.
Approach informational interviews with curiosity. Think of yourself as a cultural detective who is on a mission to learn everything you can about the person and the company they work for.
To be successful at informational interviewing it helps to start small. By learning how to interview people you already know, you will be more comfortable interviewing strangers – like alumni and people in companies that you don’t know – later in the networking process.
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