Informational interviewing or also termed informal research is a phrase coined by Richard Nelson Bolles author of the best-selling job hunting book “What Color is your Parachute.”

Informational Interview Definition

Informational interviewing is the process of identifying a job/ career that interest you and setting up a meeting with persons who perform these roles day to day with the aim of understanding whether or not the job or career really interests you.

It is important to highlight that an informational interview is not a job interview. However, an informational interview could potentially be a stepping stone to a job offer.

The Benefits of Informational Interviewing

Bolles explained that the purpose of informational interviewing is four fold:
 To screen careers before you change to them.
 To screen jobs before you take them.
 To screen places before you decide that you want to work there.
 To obtain answers to specific questions that you may find while job searching.

Informational interviewing is often confused with networking. Bolles defined networking as gathering a list of contacts who may be able to assist with your career at a future date.

Bolles strongly emphasised that informational interviewing should only be done with workers. Individuals who are actually doing the job on a day to day basis should be the persons who are interviewed.

Informational Interviewing Questions

Bolles recommended four questions that can work for every informational interview.

How did you get into this line of work? Into this particular job?

What aspects of this role do you enjoy the most?

What aspects of this role do you enjoy the least?

Who else, doing this same kind of work, would you recommend that I go talk to?

Other Informational Interview Questions that you can ask include:

What do you love about working with (name of the company)?

How would you describe the company’s culture?

What are the main responsibilities of (state the job title)?

What type of challenges do you deal with on a day to day basis as a (state the job title)?

What traits do individuals possess who excel here at the company?

What educational qualifications do persons who work in (state the job title) possess?

Is there anything important about this role that you believe is valuable information that I did not ask?

If you have to start your career all over again, is there anything that you would have done differently?

Is there anything that you that you can share about the future plans of the company?

Would you be willing to stay in touch with me?

Informational Interviewing Tips

  • Ensure and send a thank you email or thank you letter after the interview. Ideally this should be sent within 24 hours when the meeting is still fresh in the individual’s mind.
  • An informational interview should never ever be with someone who have the power to hire you rather than workers. Bolles states that if this happens you have botched up the interview.
  • Prepare an elevator pitch so that you can introduce yourself seamlessly.
  • Though in an informational interview you are asking the questions, prepare asking the questions in advance to ensure that you ask confidently.
  • Arrive on time as the individual is sacrificing of their time to meet with you.
  • Stick to the time that you agreed to at the start of the interview. If you have requested 15 minutes of the person’s time, the stick to that time unless the person insist on going that time period.
  • Dress professionally.

Informational Interview Thank You Email

Sending a thank you email is an opportunity to leave a final impression with the recruiter. It is one aspect of the interview process that many individuals forget. Therefore, this small gesture can give you an advantage.

It is crucial in the email to summarise your interest in the role and how you can add value to the organisation.
Be sure and send your email within 24 hours of the interview when the meeting is still fresh on the person’s mind.

Thank You Email Sample

Subject: Job Title (Interview on (insert date))
Dear (Mr/Ms. Last Name),

Thank you so much for the opportunity to discuss the role of (Job Title).

The details that you have outlined about the upcoming projects are exciting. I believe that with my knowledge and experience, I will be able to add tremendous value to these projects and to your organisation.

I thank you again for your kind consideration and look forward to hearing about the next steps soon.

Yours faithfully,

Ms. Jane Doe
Phone Number
LinkedIn URL

There are other related articles on this blog that can assist you in performing your informational interviews. Feel free to click the links below to explore:-

7 Red Flags That You Should Look For In A Job Interview

35 Important Things To Do Before, During And After A Job Interview

21 Top Tips and Tricks For Successful Job Interviews

10 Job Interview Pitfalls That Job Seekers Must Avoid

How To Calm Your Nerves Before A Job Interview

Final Thoughts

According to Bolles the important thing to remember with informational interviews is that they are carried out with workers and not hiring managers.

However, workers do at times have the ability to refer a candidate should they fill that an ideal fit to the company culture and the role. Therefore, preparation should be just as extensive as any other form of job interview.

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A Comprehensive Guide To Informational Interviewing

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