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Work Your Contacts for Informational Interviews

ID-100208183Congratulations. If you’ve been following my recent series of posts, you’ve got a plan to conduct your search. You’ve got some target companies. You’re working your contacts, and you’ve got some informational interviews scheduled. Now what?

I know what you really want are job interviews, but right now, I suggest you aim for informational interviews. What’s an informational interview? A 30 minute meeting with someone in your network who can help you get closer to your target companies.

Your main goal of an informational interview is to, well…gather information. Maybe you want to check out a company to be certain it’s a good fit. Perhaps you’re investigating a career change, and you want to research possibilities. I did that when I decided to pursue coaching. I had informational interviews with several local coaches to gather information and decide which coaching program I wanted to pursue.

What should you ask about in the interview? This is the time to refine your goals and message. Ask about industry trends, corporate culture, and company or industry challenges. After an informational interview, you should know one (or more) of the following:

1. That this is (or is not) a company you’d like to work for
2. That you are (or are not) targeting the right industry
3. That you are (or are not) aiming for the right position
4. Specific challenges you can address and add to your value statement
5. The next contact you should speak to

That last one is important. If you walk away from an informational interview without at least one name, you’ve wasted your time. Remember my A-B-C post. It’s likely the person you just met with was a “B” contact. It’s your job to use this meeting to get closer to one of your “A” contacts. If you’ve presented yourself and your potential value well, there should be no problems getting more names. Just ask, “Who should I speak to next?” Or if you want to be all fancy in your grammar, “To whom should I speak next?” 😉

Sometimes informational interviews lead to job interviews. Don’t assume they will, but be prepared anyway. Leave the resume in your briefcase (or on your tablet), but have it with you in case the person asks. Somewhere in the meeting, you should have had an opportunity to relate your questions to the value you bring to a potential organization. Everyone knows informational interviews are part of a job search. You’re not fooling anyone. It’s okay to ask if the person knows a company looking for someone just like you.

If you’ve managed the meeting properly and the person does know someone, don’t be surprised if the answer is “Yes.”

So get out there and work your contacts.

Image credit: By stockimages at

  • This is so well out – and so well written!
    Excellent advice all the way arou
    Thank you!

  • I think you can use this when trying to take on a client that you think may be difficult too. I realize most clients feel you’ll take them no matter what but really I’ve come across a couple I would never work with again.

  • Michelle

    What a great series of posts for pretty much anyone. I really like this informational interview approach.