Are you on the lookout for a fresh career path but finding it challenging to determine your starting point? In addition to reaching out to your nearby WorkBC Centre for support, you can expand your career prospects by engaging in Informational Interviews.
What is an Informational Interview?
Informational interviews involve you, the job seeker, interviewing the individual who would typically be conducting the interview. This format tends to be less formal than regular job interviews and are more like guided conversations driven by your questions. Perhaps there is an organization that resonates with your passions and values, but you are uncertain if your skills match any of the positions they are recruiting for. In a scenario such as this, an Informational Interview can serve as a valuable tool to gain insight into the required skills before applying. Alternatively, if you are contemplating a career change and have limited knowledge about the job opportunities in a new industry, this can be a great way to establish a connection with an organization you’re keen on exploring further while conducting your comprehensive job search.
How to get an Informational Interview?
You can make a phone call and inquire about the possibility of arranging a brief meeting with the employer or hiring manager. When doing so, be sure to convey your intention to learn more about the organization and the various employment opportunities they offer. Similarly, if you are visiting a business that piques your interest and notice a “Help Wanted” sign, this presents an excellent opportunity to ask if someone is available for a conversation with regards to the working environment. Such an Informational Interview could potentially lead to an impromptu job interview! In either case, it’s essential to have your questions prepared and a means to take notes during the conversation.
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 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!
Examples of Questions to ask during an Informational Interview:
Your questions will need to be tailored to suit the person you are meeting with. For example, if the person 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 Human Resources department, you would ask “What do most people who work here say they like about their work?”
The following questions are suggestions to use when 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 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 excellent as they are low-pressure, less formal than a job interview, and the conversation can not only showcase your interest in the organization/industry, but present 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 with us – we would love to hear about your next Informational Interview experience!