An informational interview is a meeting or conversation, initiated by you, with an employer or someone in an occupational field that you are interested in exploring or entering. These are not job interviews, and it is important that the person you are speaking to never feels pressured to offer you a job, invite you to apply for an opening, or ask for your resume. If they do, then great, but it needs to come from them. Ideally, these are informative, productive conversations that help you learn more about the field you are exploring and, perhaps, provide an opportunity to build your network.
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Studies show that it takes, on average, 7 seconds for a person to form an impression of you; so try to come across as genuine and professional.
Remember… you do not get a second chance to make a first impression. Arrive on time, whether that is for an in-person, online or telephone meeting. Also, ensure you are dressed appropriately, and be prepared.
· Use your prepared questions as a guideline for directing the conversation but, be prepared to go off script – if they lead the conversation in another direction and it’s going well – let it happen! Remember that you are building an important relationship. Although these are called informational interviews, they really are more of a two-way conversation.
· Respect their time. Your introduction should be short, you should only ask 8-10 questions, and, even if the discussion is going well, you should bring it to a close when your time is up. Let the other person invite you to stay and chat longer.
· Either drop off or mail a thank you card (cards are more personal than emails, and hand-written cards are rare these days). At a minimum, send a thank you email.
· Follow up on any new contacts/referrals.
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