How To Ace Your Informational Interview – Step By Step Guide For 2021

There is a famous quote adopted by almost all the successful professionals working all around the globe, and that is, “I will prepare and someday my chance will come.” Informational interviews are one of the best ways for job seekers to prepare themselves for prospective future challenges as well as to understand their true capabilities, intentions, and goals. These types of interviews enable a job seeker to acquire knowledge about the industry he or she sought to work in, search for possible career paths, and most importantly create some worthy professional connections. These interviews are more of counseling sessions and are in no way connected with appointments and hirings. The knowledge providers are veteran industry experts, who are kind enough to share their experiences and expertise from their vast pool of knowledge.

Difference Between Informational Interview and Job Interview

ParticularsInformational InterviewJob Interview
MeaningUnder informational interview, you have a conversation with an industry expert on various subjects such as:
1. Knowledge about the business organization
2. Knowledge about the industry as a whole
3. Various career options, etc.
Under this aspect, you simply apply to an open position and in case your resume is shortlisted you will get an interview call, wherein you will be asked various interview questions so as to evaluate your overall personality, grip on a particular subject, and your mindset as well as the approach towards different situations.
Parties InvolvedKnowledge Seeker (asks questions) and Knowledge Provider (provides answers)Interviewee (provides answers) and Interviewer (asks questions)
When To Choose?You can opt for an informational interview when :
1. You need insider insights on a particular company or a particular sector.
2. You want to explore different career paths.
3. You are a fresher and need information on various aspects as well as career-related guidance.
You can opt for a job interview when:
1. You are aware of the industry or the organization you want to work in.
2. You have absolutely no confusion or ambiguity towards a particular job profile.
3. You are not too detail-oriented and wish to work at an organization without getting acquainted with insider insights.
Professional ConnectionsHelps majorly in establishing professional connections and linksMay or may not establish any professional connection
NatureLess stressfulMore stressful
Primary OutcomeHelps you to search for jobs that match and suit your style, knowledge, skills, and preferences. Helps you to get your dream job after undergoing an exhaustive interview session.

Step By Step Guide To Ace Your Informational Interview

1) Find The Appropriate Person

The primary purpose of an informational interview could be defeated in case you are not able to search for the right person that could clear all your doubts and provide you valuable company insights. Hence, it is necessary that knowledge seekers search for a specific person who could be valuable to them. In order to do so, an aspirant can follow the following steps:

  1. Start with making a list of all the companies and business organizations you are desirous of working at.
  2. After preparing a list, search for the esteemed employees of the organizations using online websites, such as LinkedIn.
  3. Try to shortlist and pick an appropriate person whom you feel can satisfy all your expectations by providing valuable answers.
  4. Make a call or send a cold email to the person preferred and use your persuasion as well as writing/communication skills so as to convince him or her.
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2) Avoid All The Confusions and Have A Clear Learning Objective In Your Mind

Industry experts are busy people and are usually short of time. In case you do not have a clear understanding of the learning objectives or the goals that you wish to acquire from an informational interview, you will not be able to prepare some impressive questions to be asked from industry veterans. Hence, never rush and calmly write down at least three goals and objectives that you wish to acquire through your informational interview.

3) Question Time

The most vital and important aspect of an informational interview is the “questions” that you have prepared to be asked from qualified professionals. In case you are planning to prepare questions on the spot, mind you, you are in for grave trouble. Such an act would not only irritate the knowledge providers but would also lower your chances of getting another informational interview. Hence, always prepare the questions to be asked in an informational interview beforehand and revise them at least two times.

4) Prefer A Telephonic Informatonal Interview

Most of the knowledge providers would prefer a telephonic or phone call informational interview instead of meeting physically or in person. This is largely due to the time constraints and the busy life that these professionals tend to live. It is recommended that you do not force these veterans to meet you in person over a coffee or lunch, as they simply lack time as well as the intention to do so.

5) Send A Thank You Note

Everyone loves the attitude and gesture of acknowledgment and graciousness. Hence, always follow up with your knowledge provider by sending him or her a thank you note preferably within 24 hours of the conclusion of the informational interview. This way you will be able to strengthen your newly created professional connections which might come in handy in the future.

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Tips To Ask Impressive Questions From Your Knowledge Provider

1) Do A Diligent Research

In order to make your questions more meaningful and engaging, you are advised to conduct a detailed, in-depth and diligent market research. Post this, you will be able to ask some relevant questions which will not let the industry veteran to get bored or feel that the conversation is going off the mark.

2) Make Sure The Questions Are Not Vague

It is highly recommended that you ask questions that are specific, clear and do not have multiple interpretations.

3) Never Argue

Remember not to argue or use any unethical language while having a conversation with your knowledge provider, as by doing so there are high chances that you will experience a cold response from which not only spoil the quality of your professional connection but would also make it difficult for you to break enter into the specific industry. Hence, always remember that, you are not paying for getting your own doubts cleared and it is pure generosity and kindness of the industry veterans to impart their knowledge to you.

4) Be Striclly Professional

The questions aimed towards your knowledge provider must not be personal at any cost rather they must be strictly professional. The questions must revolve in and around the industry, the organization and different career paths you are willing to explore.

5) Let Them Speak More

In an informational interview you are the knowledge seeker, and in order to execute this role to perfection, try not to speak or interrupt the knowledge provider time and again. Rather, after posing an interview question, let only the knowledge provider to speak and in case you have any doubt write it on a piece of paper, which is to be asked only towards the end of the session.

List Of Relevant Informational Interview Questions

The quality and efficiency of an informational interview depends upon the quality and effectiveness of the questions asked from the knowledge providers, who are usually industry veterans and experts. Hence, Prepmycareer provides you with the list of some impressive informational interview questions, which you can modify as per your requirement and ask. Some common questions are:

  1. Sir, based on my educational qualifications and work experience, I wish to enter this industry. Please share the scope of this industry with me.
  2. What is the one thing that you want to change in your work?
  3. How can you effectively prioritize the several tasks to be eprformed during the day. Please share your prioritization technique.
  4. I wish to understand the work culture of the organization, please share your valuable insights in respect of the same.
  5. Can you share the different paths or fields that a person can enter into after working in this industry?
  6. What prompted you to make career in this field?
  7. How many years of hardwork is usually required to reach at the stature and position like yours?
  8. Can you recommend any professional courses, magazines or journals, using which I can enhance my skills and contribute towards my overall professional development?
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Three Common Templates To Convince A Knowledge Provider

Knowledge providers can be considered as generous people, who are willing lend their helping hand without any intention to gain financially. They have absolutely no personal interests in solving your doubts or giving you guidance, rather they are doing this just as a good cause. Considering the fact that there is absolutely no presence of any personal gain, it is practically hard to find and convince knowledge providers as they are usually busy and lacks pleasure time. However, using your persuasion skills you can convince your knowledge provider to impart his or her valuable information. Below is a set of three templates which you can use:

Template One

I hope you are in the best of health and high spirits. I found your profile on your LinkedIn page and I immediately got impressed with your skills, experience and knowledge. I wish to become as successful as you in my career, and in order to do so practically, I wish to have a conversation with you for about 20 minutes. I have a few doubts in relation to the industry, that I believe you will be able to solve with ease. Looking forward to a positive response.

Template Two

I hope this mail of mine finds you in excellent health and conducive situations. Sir, depsrate for an informational interview, I came across your professional profile through an online website. I am deeply impressed by your accolades and achievements, which I wish to replicate in my life. However, I have a few career related doubts, which only you can provide solutions of. Hence, give me an opportunity to have an informational interview with you for about 15 minutes.

Template Three

I wish you are fine and this mail of mine finds you in high spirits. I found your professional profile online, and being a fresh graduate and career aspiring individual, I wish to replicate your achievements and laurels. I wish to have an informational interview with you, as per your time and convenience. Your valuable guidance and superior knowledge can shape my future in a better way. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

References

  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0049124118799377
  2. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2777785