May 26, 2020
Baking bread can be a touchy and challenging process, especially if you’ve never done it before. If you want to learn how to make the best bread, you don’t go to a florist or mechanic. You go straight to the source and ask the best baker you know to teach you the art of bread-making. You get to benefit from their experience and learn the tips and tricks that aren’t on the recipe card!
An informational interview is like that. It is a quick casual interview with a professional to help you gather information about potential careers that interest you. It can help you make informed decisions about which certificate to choose as you identify the skills you want to learn.
President Russell M. Nelson said, “Good inspiration is based upon good information.”1 Find the good information you need to make a better decision about your certificate, career, and future choices through an informational interview. Though it’s not a job interview, it can help you discover the direction, tools, and connections you need to prepare you when that time comes. It will even help you find information you can’t find online. Follow these five steps to conduct an informational interview.
1. Find someone to interview
Don’t let this step intimidate you! It can be scary putting yourself out there, but you will discover people all around you willing to help. The key is to reach out to others and access the power of your networks.
- Talk to family and friends about your career interests and see if they know someone with a similar career path that you can talk to.2
- Utilize LinkedIn or similar networking platforms to finding common connections, those with a similar path you hope to follow, or someone with an interesting path. It’s okay to reach out, in a professional way, to people you don’t know.
- Search according to your interests. It’s easier to find and talk to someone when you’re both passionate about the subject.
2. Initiate contact
Send a message to the person you want to interview over email, LinkedIn, or a similar platform. Be brief, clear, and specific about your intentions. If you don’t receive a response back, don’t give up. Send a friendly follow-up message.
My name is Joseph, and I’m a computer engineer currently trying to further my education. I’m thinking about pursuing a certificate or degree in business management. After chatting with my supervisor, Ruth Clarke, she recommended I speak with you. I’m curious about how you were able to successfully blend your love of technology into a productive and meaningful business. I would love to learn more about your work and which skills you’ve used the most as you’ve built your business.
I want to be respectful of your time, but would you be available for an informational interview on Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. or Thursday at 3:00 p.m.? Let me know if you can meet on one of those days or if there’s a better time for you.
Thank you for your time,
3. Come prepared
Nothing gives you more credibility than coming prepared. Learn what you can about the individual, their profession, and their industry. In addition, prepare questions to ask during the interview and consider sending the questions in advance so the person has time to prepare. This will help you lead the conversation and be respective of their time. Here are some questions you could consider asking.
4. During the interview
As you interview them, be curious and passionate about what they have to say. Ask follow-up questions and be engaged. Share a little about you but mainly focus the conversation on them. Lastly, be respectful by being courteous, kind, and conscious of their time. This may only be an informational interview, but it could lead to further opportunities down the road.
5. Build a connection
Use the interview as a way to build meaningful connections. At the end of the interview, ask for recommendations for people to talk to next. They can lead you to additional people who can help.
After the interview, be sure to send a thank you note, expressing your gratitude for their time and the experiences they shared.
What would you ask in an informational interview? Share below!
Check out these additional resources:
Informational Interview Question Guide
Designing Your Career: The Informational Interview
Best Questions to Ask In an Informational Interview
Comments on "Seeking Inspiration through Information"
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I find that two of the degrees offered in this pathway program will directly relate to the current career field that I am working in. While discussing with my current employer my schooling, I plan to bring up the two options that I have and which one I believe is the best and why, but ask for his advice.
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What was a key factor to make you do what you are doing now, and is this your dream job?
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This will really be helpful and it is timely. In the country I live, this kind of counseling is rare. I will start working on this encouragement
I really appreciate all the instructions given. It has given me a road map on how to plan and conduct an informational interview. I will find time to have mine done.
However, I still do not think I have chosen the right certificate course. I do hope by the end of the interview, I might come up with a better understanding of this process. Thank you.
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