How to ask for an informational interview – and what to do in 6 steps for success

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If you want to know how to ask for an informational interview, you should probably know what it is first.

An informational interview is a beneficial step in your networking journey, which is key to getting you that dream job! An informational interview is a chat with someone who has the same job or career as the one you are trying to get.

It is NOT an official interview for a job. You may think it would be a waste of time since you are not interviewing for a job – and this is where you would be wrong.

An informational interview if done correctly, will provide you valuable insights into the role or company, and ideally a network contact. A network contact is what you’re really after here and invaluable in your journey of finding a job and starting your career. So how to ask for an informational interview and what to do when you get one?

How to ask for an informational interview and what to do when you get one
One of the main goals of an informational interview is networking!

Here are steps for how to ask for an informational interview and what to do

Connect to individuals with the same job as the one you’re trying to get

The first step in how to ask for an informational interview is to actually find someone to ask!

If you live in a large city, you can search if there is a networking event in the industry you are trying to get into. If there is, you should attend and network. Networking in person is a lot easier. It is easier to grab someone’s attention in person. It’s harder for them to say no to you in person.

If this isn’t possible, if you’re from a small area or are trying to network from far away, then you can network virtually. Linkedin is a great platform to network virtually. It is a social media platform for professional networking. If you don’t have an account, you can make one here.

If you’re not sure WHO to network with, here are 3 types of people you can connect with easily on linkedin. Search for people with a similar job as the one you’re trying to get. When you connect with them, do not “cold” connect request. Make sure you write a short little message.

How to ask for an informational interview example:

“Hi _(person’s name)___. I’m __(your name)___. I’m interested in the role of  (specific job), and was wondering if you were available for a quick chat about your experience?

Make your introduction short

After you perfected how to ask for an informational interview, what do you actually do when you get one?

When people give you their valuable time, do not go on and on about yourself. Do not rant about your frustrations in your job search and how you’ve been looking for forever and no one will give you chance. This is NOT how to ask for an informational interview.

Make your introduction short. Tell your story in 5 minutes and keep it positive. No one likes to hear negativity or people complain. Especially people who don’t even know you. Being positive puts your image in a better light and makes it easier for people to want to talk to you.

Do some research beforehand

When someone agrees to have a chat with you about their job, they are giving you some of their valuable time to help you. This is not the time to ask them very basic questions about the job that you can find online. Make a good impression and show them that you’ve done your research.

Do not ask simple and general questions like “What do you do for your job?”. Google this instead.

This is the time to ask the detailed questions to get valuable insights to the job or the company. Things that you cannot get with a simple google search. Have some good questions to ask beforehand to gain these valuable insights.

In addition, do some research on the background of the person you’re having an informational interview with. This can easily be done if they are on Linkedin. You can ask a simple question about their history and background as an icebreaker.

Be tactful about salary questions

If you’re curious about the salary for the job, do not ask directly how much the person makes. It’s tacky. Ask in around about way like “I did some research, and it says that the salary for this position can range anywhere from xxx to xxxx. Would you say this is accurate?”

Sometimes the person brings up the money and salary topic first. If they do, you can ask follow up questions to dig a little more.

For example:

If the person says that this is a “lucrative” field, follow up with a question about what the salary range would be.

This is NOT the time to ask for a referral or about job openings

The very first time to speak to someone is NOT the time to ask for a favor. This is not the time to ask them if they know of a job opening or if they can refer you for a job you found online. This is very tacky, unprofessional, and a little bit rude.

They do not know you. They do not owe you. Why would they refer you? You need to build up a relationship first before asking for these favors. This is why networking is SO IMORTANT and valuable. It is when you have these relationships from networking that you can ask for these favors without it being awkward or weird because it will be no big deal.

Do not try and sell yourself. This is a time to get information and to build a relationship.

Follow up

Always follow up with a short thank you message for their time.

And then use your judgement for additional follow ups. If you had a good conversation with the person and there was good chemistry, follow up from time to time. Don’t be annoying about this, but keep in touch once in a while. You can update them about your job hunting progress or check in to see how they’re doing.

This is how you establish a network and relationship with someone to ask for those favors of job referral and job openings.

So those are 6 steps you can follow for how to ask for an informational interview and what to do when you actually get one!

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