Are you searching for a new career but need help figuring out where to start? In addition to contacting your local WorkBC Centre for assistance, you could broaden your job horizon by conducting Informational Interviews.
What is an Informational Interview?
Informational interviews are when the job seeker (you), interviews the person who would typically conduct the job interview. Informational Interviews are usually less formal than job interviews and are more of a conversation you guide with your questions. Perhaps there is an organization that aligns with your passion or values, but you are unsure if your skills fit any of the roles they are recruiting for. An Informational Interview can be a great tool to learn about the necessary skills before you apply. Or, perhaps you are considering switching to a new industry and your knowledge about the type of jobs available is limited. In either of these situations, an Informational Interview can be a great way to get your foot in the door at an organization you are interested in learning more about as you conduct your full job search.
How to get an Informational Interview?
You can phone and ask if it is possible to meet briefly with the employer (or hiring manager). Be sure to share with them that the purpose of your request is to learn more about the organization and the different employment opportunities available. Likewise, if you are shopping at a business that interests you, and they have a “Help Wanted” sign posted, this can be excellent time to inquire if someone might be available to chat about what it is like to work there. An Informational Interview of this kind may even lead to an on-the-spot job interview! In either situation, be sure you have your questions prepared and that you have a way to record a few notes during the interview.
Should I bring a list of questions to an Informational Interview?
YES! As mentioned above, bring a written list of at least three relevant questions to ask about working in the industry, or that are specific to the organization. This step not only shows you are eager and motivated, but also demonstrates you are organized and a critical thinker!
Example Questions to ask in an Informational Interview:
Your questions will need to tailored to suit the person you are meeting with. For example, if the person you are meeting with currently holds a similar position you are interested in, you would ask, “What do you like most about your work?” However, if the person you are meeting with is from the HR department, you would ask “What do most people who work here say they like about their work?”
The following questions are suggestions for when you meeting with someone who currently works in the occupation you are inquiring about:
- What do you like best about the type of work you do?
- What do you like the least about the type of work you do?
- What kinds of problems do you deal with?
- What do you perceive the organization’s culture to be? What type of person do you think bests fits this culture?
- What type of training opportunities are offered to employees in this industry?
- What are your main responsibilities as a…?
- What is a typical day (or week) like for you?
Most importantly, one of your questions should be “Are you hiring?” If the position is advertised, then there is no need to ask. However, if there are no current postings, be sure to ask about their hiring plans as you conclude the interview. Lastly, be sure to ask if they have any feedback or suggestions and show your gratitude for the time they spent with you.
Informational Interviews are great as they are low-pressure, less formal than a job interview, and the conversation can showcase your interest in the organization/industry, presenting an opportunity to let them know you are serious in your job search. As well, an informational interview may encourage them to consider how your current skills might be a potential fit for future opportunities!
Keep in touch – we’d love to hear about your next Informational Interview experience!