Using an Informational Interview to ‘Get Your Foot in the Door’

August 17th, 2012

Have you been looking for a job but aren’t finding any in your field? Are you applying to openings but not getting any interviews? Then take your recruiter’s advice and try setting up some informational interviews. Don’t be pushy or obvious about selling yourself as a candidate: instead, think of it as a great way to make new acquaintances in your field, gain local knowledge and possibly pick up some tips that will help you find your next professional opportunity.

Here are some guidelines to help you get the most out of your informational interviews:

Be Clear Up Front

Make sure the person you’re meeting with knows this is an informational interview and seems truly interested in participating. If they answer your request right away and seem enthusiastic, they were a good choice. If you have to keep asking or they don’t seem interested, look elsewhere.

Have a Plan

When you go into the interview, make sure you know what information you want to get out of it and how you’ll get it. For example, if your goals include getting an insider’s assessment of the market and/or your qualifications for the type of positions you’re seeking, limit your discussion to those topics. If you’re looking for specific information like the names of hiring managers or tips on which professional associations to join, make sure you get it before you move on to other topics.

Make a Connection

As soon as you can, establish a connection and mutual interest. Show that you’ve done your homework and researched the company and the interviewer, and express genuine interest in what they can share. This will not only communicate that you’re serious, it will leave a good impression with the interviewer.

Mind Your Manners

Be professional, courteous and appreciative of any help provided. Send a follow-up note and ask if you can connect with the interviewee on LinkedIn. If you meet for coffee, lunch or breakfast, be sure pick up the check!

Ask for References

If things are going well, if the interviewee seems engaged and interested in offering help, ask for the names of additional people who may be willing to meet with you. Then follow up with these people. As you expand your network, you expand your possibilities for a job opportunity.

Keep An Eye on the Clock

If you’ve requested 15 minutes of someone’s time, don’t overstay your welcome—unless that person is in the middle of explaining something to you. When they are finished, let them know the time is up, and see if they are ready to conclude the interview.

Choose Your Location Wisely

While you or your subject may prefer an out-of-office chat over coffee or a meal, try for an in-office meeting. The person you are interviewing will have important information more easily at hand, and you’ll get a glimpse of how things work in that business.

Informational interviews are a good way to expand your network and learn more about a company you may be interested in working for. Oftentimes your recruiter will have connections at a company, and will be able to make an introduction for you. If a position opens up with that company, your recruiter may offer you the job because you have built a relationship with the company.

Are you looking for more ways to crack the job market? Contact the recruiting experts at Synerfac today; we have offices across the country and would be happy to discuss your options!

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