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3 Reasons Why Informational Interviews Are So Powerful

Use them to tap the hidden job market...

by Janna Kefalas in Interviews, Job Search, Networking

You may have heard how informational interviews can be serious game changers in your career but never understood what they were exactly…or how to conduct one.

Essentially, informational interviews are conversations you arrange with someone who’s either in a profession you’re interested in pursuing or works at a company you’d like to learn more about.

They can take place over the phone, over coffee, or even over an extended email exchange.

Informational interviews differ from regular interviews in that there’s no specific job at stake. They’re more casual in nature…and you’re the one asking most of the questions.

These interviews are an excellent way to gather information that’ll help you make the right decision in your career…and possibly lead to a plum opportunity.

Here are 3 reasons why they’re so powerful:

Reason #1 – Informational interviews can help you decide if a career path is right for you

If you’re thinking about making a career change or are a recent grad, no amount of online research on a profession compares to speaking with one or several people who are doing that exact thing.

They can give you the lowdown on all aspects of their occupation, both positive and negative. 

They can also give you insight into how to get started in that field as well as which skills you’d most need to acquire or leverage.

Reason #2 – Informational interviews can provide you valuable information on a company

If you’re not making a career change but are wanting to find a similar role at a new company, arranging informational interviews with a couple employees at that company can help you determine if it’s the right fit.

Once again, no one has a better scoop on an organization than the people working there. They can speak to the company culture, the dynamics of their department, and what the higher ups look for in a candidate.

You may even learn about opportunities that aren’t currently posted online, thereby tapping the hidden job market.

Reason #3 – Informational interviews can lead to real interviews…and potentially job offers

The saying “it’s not about what you know but who you know” couldn’t be more true when it comes to job searching. According to Jobvite, you’re 5-15 times more likely to be hired as a referral than as an unknown applicant.

It makes perfect sense! Employers would rather hire a candidate who someone they know can vouch for. That’s why most mid size and large companies offer employee referral bonuses to encourage their staff to send qualified applicants their way.

So by doing informational interviews and building meaningful relationships, you can increase your chances of being invited in for an actual interview.

How do you find the right people to conduct informational interviews with?

I think it’s best to start by asking friends and family if they know people who are either in your desired career or are working at a company of interest — and see if they can introduce you. LinkedIn makes it easy to see how you’re connected to prospects and request an introduction.

But if you’re not having luck with this route, you can do own LinkedIn research by job title and company and send personalized connection requests to the appropriate people. From there you can get the conversation going.

Regardless of your approach, know that informational interviews can be a true multiplier when it comes to starting out in a new field or getting your foot in the door at a stellar company.

So make them a crucial component of your search!