When used correctly, informational interviews are a powerful tool that can help you gain insights into your target company, learn industry best practices, and stand out in today’s saturated job market.
So what are informational interviews? What questions do you ask? How do you follow up afterwards?
In this article, I break down what an informational interview is and how to request one. I also share the 10 top questions to ask. Finally, I explain how to effectively follow up afterwards. By the end of this article, you will understand how to leverage informational interviews to help you find a job you LOVE.
What Are Informational Interviews?
An informational interview is a networking conversation with someone who works in your target career. It allows you to gain real-time information from someone working in your target role, industry, or company.
Informational interviews are particularly helpful when job searching as they can help you find an ‘in’ at your target company. If you are trying to break into tech, for instance, you may want to request an informational interview with someone at Meta, Amazon, Google, or another tech company to glean tips and insights from their personal experiences working in tech.
How Do You Request An Informational Interview?
Requesting an informational interview is simple. After identifying your target contact, send a short message requesting 20 minutes of their time. Clarify that the purpose of your conversation is to learn more about their career and experiences, share best practices, and get any tips they have on navigating the industry.
If you are struggling with how to request an informational interview, read this article. I provide additional insights on how to write high-impact LinkedIn networking messages that get responses.
Top 10 Informational Interview Questions
You secured time on their calendar, but now what do you ask? The following are a few of the best informational interview questions to ask to get useful feedback.
- How did you get into your career?
- What are the most in-demand skills for someone in your field?
- What makes you fabulous?
- What does your typical day (or week) look like?
- What do you enjoy most about working at [organization]?
- What exciting projects are you working on right now?
- What was your interview process like?
- What are the biggest trends you are seeing in the industry?
- What other questions should I be asking you?
- Who else should I speak to within our industry?
These are just a few suggestions. Get creative and ask questions that ignite your curiosity.
How Do You Follow Up After An Informational Interview?
Follow-up is a crucial aspect of successful networking and relationship building, so be sure to send your contact an email message thanking them for their time and knowledge after your informational interview. But don’t stop there!
You want to keep in touch with your contact. One way to stay top of mind is to send them relevant news articles and other information that may be of value. You can also circle back when you see job openings of interest at their company. (This is one of the best aspects of informational interviews!)
Example Follow-Up Email After An Informational Interview
Unsure of what to write in your follow-up email message? Here is a sample to serve as inspiration:
Thank you so very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me and share more about your experience at [Company] and your success in the tech industry.
I enjoyed learning more about XXX, YYY, and ZZZ.
I look forward to staying in touch. Have a fabulous rest of your week!
A Final Note: If you are actively looking for a new job, you may find it helpful to set a key performance indicator (KPI) for how many informational interviews you want to conduct every week or month – and hold yourself to it. You’ve got this!