An Informational Interview

An Informational Interview is a meeting in which a job seeker asks for career and industry advice rather than employment. The job seeker uses the interview to gather information on the field, and to find employment leads and expand their professional network. This differs from a job interview because the job seeker asks the questions. The term was coined by Richard Nelson Bolles, author of the best-selling career handbook, What Color Is Your Parachute? There may or may not be a specific employment opportunity available. Nevertheless, job interview etiquette is expected.

You should inform your contact/interviewee that you will be writing about your discussion in your blog well in advance of the interview!

Informational interviews are initiated by the job seeker. [1]  There are many avenues the job seeker may pursue to obtain the informational interview: Career and social networking, newspaper want ads, job boards, placement services, company websites, trade association and professional meetings, human resource contacts, professors and teachers, job search engines, and professional recruiters.

Etiquette for Informational Interviews

Because the job seeker initiates the interview, and the person being interviewed is the professional doing a favor by being interviewed by the job seeker, [2] it is important to be mindful of guidelines of informational interview etiquette, in addition to etiquette for traditional interviews:

  • prepare with research about the industry and the individual;
  • arrange a time and place convenient to the professional;
  • set a short time for the discussion (15 minutes is not unusual);
  • have business cards available;
  • dress appropriately;
  • arrive promptly;
  • ask well-prepared questions;
  • offer to terminate the meeting at the end of the agreed time;
  • offer to pay any bill associated with the meeting (from coffee to dinner tab); and
  • write a personalized thank you note, preferably on stationery.

and other actions appropriate for the industry to make a good first impression. [3] [4]

Assignment:

Schedule an informational interview with someone from a company/industry of your choosing.  You may do this in person, or online if your contact is agreeable to it.  Make sure you write a short, general outline of questions in advance and keep them relevant.  Make sure your contact understands in advance that you will be blogging about this interview!

When your interview is finished summarize your meeting in a blog post that is a minimum of 500 words.  As with any blog posting, please take care to avoid mechanical, grammatical and spelling errors.  Write in a style that is interesting as well as respectful to your subject.

Make sure you categorize this as Term Project to get credit for this assignment!

 

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