As most people know, there are different kinds of interviews, and different interviewing techniques. Most of the attention given to interviews goes to those where a job is at stake.
But there is another kind of interview — the informational interview — that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves, because it too can be an effective way to land a job or boost a career.
The informational interview can be used to help you gain real, practical knowledge about an industry or help you expand your network of people. More people need to use them, according to Annie Favreau, a career counselor.
She offers some advice on how to get the most out of the informational interview, beginning with doing the proper research. You should never go into these kinds of interviews without doing research on the person you are interviewing and the industry in which he or she works. You need to have some idea about what the individual does. You can perform this research in a number of ways, looking through books, on the Internet, or even talking to family and friends.
You should also have a specific reason for meeting with the person, a purpose in mind. Yes, you are gathering information, but for what, and why? You need to answer these important questions before you ever approach the person for a meeting. This is important for making a good impression on the person, because he or she will probably be a little frustrated if you are unclear why you want to talk to him or her. For example, are you interested in learning the specific duties of a certain job, or what the hurdles are to getting into a certain profession, or what you need to do to be successful in a certain job? Prepare questions in advance that relate to your reason for requesting a meeting.
And don’t waste the person’s time by asking questions you can find the answer to yourself by doing a little reading. You are there to get information that only this person can provide, the answers that come from actually working in the industry.
Finally, this is an informational interview, not a job interview, so do not ask for a job. This is a kind of bait-and-switch tactic that will only annoy the person you are talking to.
If you’re looking to find a new position, the recruiters at RealStreet Staffing would love to meet with you to discuss what types of jobs are out there. We have many terrific temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire positions with some of Washington, DC’s top construction, engineering and architecture firms. Contact us today!