8.2   What you will learn from an informational interview

The informational interview is not a job interview!  You are not asking for a job and you are not expecting to be offered one.  All you are doing is meeting with a professional in your field in an informal way and asking questions about his or her work.

If they think you are there actually looking for a job or expecting one,  they are probably not going to meet with you.  At this point,  they have no reason to offer you an opportunity,  they don't know anything about you.  And you are hardly going to get to meet with anyone if you are only meeting with people who actually have jobs available.

I have already told you that the main questions you want to ask your contact is what they do, what is required to be successful in the field, and what advice they would give to someone considering a career in their field or a job with their company.

This is the information you are trying to gather:
  • information about your career field and and about specific jobs
  • details about a typical day in your field of interest
  • more information about the skills necessary to be successful in a specific career
  • the future prospects of a field
  • how you fit in with your current level of education and experience
You also want to:
  • make contacts for possible job leads and interviews
  • develop leads on positions as they become available

If you decide that you are interested in their organization, be sure to ask about the best way to get in. You also want to ask if they can recommend other people for you to talk with to gather more information.

The information you gain from these interviews is like gold!   People who are working in your field will be able to tell you things you just can't find in any published resource.

It is also the case that if they have taken the time to speak with you,  they are going to want to be helpful.  They are going to want to feel like it was worth their time.  They will want to know that they have helped contribute to the success of someone else.