Getting an Informational Interview

Friday, May 15th, 2009 - career management, career planning, Job Application, Job Interview, Job Interview


Getting an Informational Interview

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Linda, an undergraduate, asks: This summer I would like to spend some time speaking with professional in industries in which I am considering a career. How do I go about making that initial contact? Is “cold calling” appropriate? Thank you, Linda

In answer:
Cold calling is probably the last, and often the least effective, way of arranging informational interviews.

An Informational Interview is most often used by undergraduates – and occasionally, job seekers – looking to find out about a company or possible career path. They are ideal in creating a non-pressurised situation in which candidates can ask more probing questions, and employers can be more candid about the type of candidates they are seeking, and if the applicant fits their profile.

The first thing is to pick out industries and top companies you are really interested in working for. Then, do some research on those companies – top people, heads of HR, heads of the departments you would possibly like to work for.

Now prepare a short Cover Letter, and attach a suitable CV. In informational interviews, you can break a Cover Letter rule, in that you can run to a second page with some key answers you are seeking in your interview session. There are now three ways to gain your informational interview:

  1. People you know: for instance, have you chatted your career view through with your key lecturers or head of year/course, and asked them who they know?
  2. Social Media: using sites like LinkedIn, do a search for people in that organisation
  3. Cover Letter: write to the companies you did research on initially, directing at the head of department you are wishing to speak to.

Information interviews are great ways to seek soft information about an organisation, and test social fit. Cold calls are a great way to get quick introductions, but probably only best used to gain informational interviews with those seeking sales orientated positions.

Good Luck!

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