1INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWING & NETWORKING Career Development & Employment Services College Center Building 2500 East 80th Street Inver Grove Hgts MN 55076 651-450-3301 firstname.lastname@example.org www.inverhillsjobs.com
2 Table of ContentsInformational Interviewing and Networking 2 What Is an Informational Interview? 2 How To Complete An Informational Interview 2-4 Sample Informational Interview Questions 5
3 Informational Interviewing and Networking Informational interviews may be used to research careers as well as a way to make connections at companies or within a career field. Making connections within companies is called networking, however, most people use informational interviewing and networking interchangeably. Informational interviewing serves a dual purpose. You are able to find more information about a specific career or career field as well as establishing connections with potential future employers. The chart below descries the 2 major functions of informational interviews. Career Research and Decision Making: Researching and Identifying Possible Jobs or Career Paths: Informational interviews are a way to gather information as well as a chance to learn Meeting with networking contacts occurs about a particular career or the world of after you have a fairly clear career goal or work before making a career decision. job functional area of interest. An effective tool when you want answers Networking is the most efficient job search about day-to-day details regarding work tool. The majority of jobs aren’t advertised environments, careers, and occupational and, many times, candidates are identified fields. through professional and personal contacts. Primarily used to narrow down interests Networking can help identify companies or before a career decision is made. organizations that may have a job(s) you desire or may have a work environment you enjoy.What Is an Informational Interview? • An informal conversation with someone who is currently working in a desired career field who is willing to give information and advice. • Usually 20-30 minutes in length, ideally in the contact’s work place. • Used to find career paths not previously known to exist. • An effective way to clarify academic or professional goals and to confirm that it matches desired interests, values, lifestyle, and future plans. • Technique to build a professional network and initiate a relationship. • Can help develop job search skills. A clear understanding of the functions of a position which leads to a more targeted resume and cover letter and tailored interview skills.How To Complete an Informational Interview: Step 1. Identify people to interview: • Pursue your own contacts. People you already know, even if they do not work in a field you are interested in, can lead to people who are. This group includes: family, friends, instructors, former employers, classmates, etc.
4Step 1. continued: • Professional Contacts. These might be contacts through professional organization(s), conferences, work or volunteer positions, job fairs, or employers who have posted on Inver Hill’s job search web site. • Call Organizations. Contact organizations and companies directly or check their web site to find a person who is working within an area of interest. • Get Involved. Get involved with Inver Hill’s Alumni Association and attend events. • Written Material. Read professional trade journals/publications, newspapers, and magazines that give names or references to businesses of interest. • Online Networking. Join a professional networking community, such as LinkedIn or Ryze*Note that these contacts do not need to be “high level” people. Informational interviews areabout making contacts with individuals who have or are doing a job that interests you. Theymight be your “in” with the hiring manager!Step 2. Initiate Contact. How to set up the Interview:When setting up an informational interview, a personal referral is ideal. e.g. “My co-worker,Sally Jones, suggested I contact you regarding information about career opportunities in theparalegal field”. However, finding a contact outside an inner circle is sometimes necessary.This form of “cold contact” can be intimidating and outside the comfort area of many people.However, you will find that the majority of people are very helpful and enjoy talking about theirposition and experience. Here are some steps to keep in mind when initiating contact: • Contact the person through phone or by email. • Mention how you found his or her name. • Know your goal. Emphasize that you are doing research on possible careers, their company/organization, or specific type of job position within the field. Make it clear that you are only gathering informational and not soliciting a job. • Request an in-person meeting. • Navigating a rejection: Ask if there’s a better time to contact them or ask if there is someone else they could recommend talking to. Sample Script: Researching and Identifying Possible Jobs or Career Paths Good Afternoon [insert name]. I am a student (or alumni) of Inver Hills Community College with an associate’s degree in Computer Networking and Technology. I received your contact information from Jane Smith at IT Connection. I’m interested in pursuing a job in the CNT field with an emphasis in Project Management. Would you be willing to meet with me for 20-30 minutes and give me some information on your position, the project management field, and on your organization? I’m looking to gather more information on possible career paths. Sample Script: Career Research and Decision Making Good Morning [insert name]. I found your name on your organization’s web site. I am a student at Inver Hills Community College and am considering social work as a possible career. I would like to find out as much information as possible before I make a final decision. Would you be willing to take 20-30 minutes to meet so I may ask you questions about the field and any advice you would have for a student?
5Step 3. Prepare for the Interview: • Research the company or organization. • Prepare a list of open ended questions to ask (sample questions listed in back of packet) • Develop a 1 minute talk. This might include reasons why you contacted this person, why you’re meeting, the goal of the meeting, and an introduction of yourself (Create memory joggers: what you’re looking for, what careers you’re interested in, past work/volunteer experience that lead you to this career option).Step 4: Conduct the Interview: • Arrive on time and dress professionally (similar to interview attire) • Restate that your objective is for information gathering and not a job. Use your 1 minute talk you developed. • Listen and be genuinely interested in the conversations. Ask follow up questions, if needed. • Take notes and keep meeting in accordance to the length you asked for (20-30 minutes) • Ask for other people you should contact for additional information. • Ask for a business card at the end of the meeting. • Thank them for their time and information.Step 5: Informational Interview Follow-Up • Review your notes and add additional detail or comments, if needed. • Send a handwritten thank you note or email, within 1-2 business days. State that you enjoyed the conversation, the information given was helpful, and express what your next steps are. • Keep in touch with this person. Inform them on the result of their information, let them know when you are job searching, ask them for advice in the future. (You have laid the groundwork for a great professional network and now need to maintain it!)
6 Sample Informational Interview QuestionsNature of the Work Questions 1. What are the specific duties and responsibilities? 2. Describe a typical day/week? 3. What are the toughest problems you deal with? 4. What part of this work do you find most rewarding?Work Qualification Questions 1. What kind of training, education, or course work is required? 2. What skills or talents are most essential in this career? 3. What personal qualities are important? 4. What kinds of prior experiences are absolutely essential? 5. How did you prepare yourself for this work?Working Condition Questions 1. What type of setting, hours, atmosphere, etc. can be expected? 2. What obligations does this type of work place upon you outside of the ordinary work week? 3. How much flexibility do you have in terms of hours of work, dress, vacation, etc.? 4. What types of organizations typically hire for this field?Internship / Work Entry Questions 1. What types of internships/part-time jobs would you suggest before entering this field? 2. Where would I look for related experiences in this career, such as internships, part-time jobs, or volunteer positions?" (try to get specific names of places and people) 3. What types of employers hire people in this field? Where are they located?Work Advancement Questions 1. What are the possible job titles for entry level (or mid-level) positions in this field? 2. What are some of the job possibilities for experienced workers in this field? 3. Is turnover high in this field? If so, why? 4. Do people normally move to another company/organization or do they move up in the company/organization?Employment Outlook Questions 1. How rapidly is the present career field growing? 2. If the work you do was suddenly eliminated, what different kinds of work do you feel you could do?Salary Questions - Do not ask for their salary 1. What is the average starting salary? 2. What are the salaries for experienced workers? 3. How much do salaries vary in this career according to the employer, region, or industry?Referral Questions - Always Ask These 1. Based on our conversation today, what other people do you believe I should talk to? 2. Can you name a few people who might be willing to see me? May I have permission to use your name when I call or contact them? 3. What are the professional associations in this field? 4. Are there some related career fields that I may want to research next? 5. Can I contact you in the future for advice?
7Some questions cited from: University of California – Berkeley -Career Center – Questions to Ask During an Informational Interview – 15, October 2008<http://career.berkeley.edu/Plan/InfoQuestions.stm>