Conducting Informational Interviews: The Rest of the Details

[article continued from Part I ]

girl on cel phoneII. CONDUCTING THE INTERVIEW – Initial Discussion

For Cold Calls: (if you don’t know the person or haven’t been introduced)

  • Introduce yourself and why you’re calling. Tell them right off the bat this is NOT a sales call!
  • Ask to set a brief 10 minute appointment for an informational interview. Explain you’re approaching them because it appears to you they have expertise in the area of your interest. In under 10 words, let them know how you chose them – by referral, their website, Linkedin, or another source.
  • Don’t ask for a job from those you’re interviewing for information.  It’s a violation of the trust they gave you by offering to provide unbiased information. Upholding this ethic enables you to gain their trust so they’ll share useful information, ideas and perhaps even opinions or resources.

That way, you’ll have the information you need to approach those who could later offer you a job – or the resources  you are seeking from this this interview.

Jubilant BusinesswomanSURPRISE! Sometimes an informational interview does end up in a job interview. You just shouldn’t expect that or it could taint your interview intention.

I did get a job once from an informational interview when I had no intention of that. I was transitioning into a new industry and wanted basic information on the industry.

I was not the one who brought up the job.  The person I interviewed was just impressed with my knowledge, the questions I asked, how I handled the interview in a comfortable manner so they called later to offer me a job.

That might happen to you, too!

 III.  CONDUCTING THE INTERVIEW – Relevant Questions & Building Rapport

Remember you’re asking questions to gain insight, hidden or “behind the scenes” type information you can’t get from research and that an engaging personality will make it more fun for both of you. (they’re nervous about giving you good answers, too!):

  • I’m curious about “x” topic or job.  I wonder what would you be seeking if you were hiring an “x” at your firm – what qualifications, work experience, skills, background, talents, etc.?


  • What hidden skills or abilities are needed such as; excellent communication or writing skills, IT skills, working calmly under pressure, being a super fast study, or similar?


  • How would you suggest I meet, get current with or find some mentors in “x” [your preferred job or interview topic] 


  • How many days a week [hours a week] do you generally work? Is it different now than when you started? [this gives you a sense of lifestyle]


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