Informational interviews sound like a lot of hard work for little gain but in reality, the opposite is true. Once you learn the art of the informational interview it can be a valuable source of knowledge and connections that will help you with much more than just finding a job.
We think informational interviews should be far more mainstream than they currently are. But the fact that not very many people use them right now means that you can be at an advantage if you do.
When you’re trying to find work, it may seem like a task that can be put aside but in fact, an informational interview can be the cornerstone of a transformational job search via the hidden job market.
Let’s look at what they are and why you should be doing them.
What Is An Informational Interview?
First up, let’s not put too much emphasis on the word ‘interview’. It should, really, be known as an informational conversation and often is.
It is a chance to talk to someone who is already working in an industry, company or role in which you are interested in working. The two key things you can gain from doing this are a) valuable knowledge on the role, company or industry that your interested in and b) valuable contacts within these areas.
They are becoming more and more popular as a way to increase your chances of finding the right job or career. They used to be very commonplace before we had the internet to just browse for a job. But with the online job market becoming so overcrowded, moving to the more traditional method of finding work makes much more sense.
But it would make sense even without the problem of over-crowded online job boards, as you’ll see!
Why Should You Be Conducting Informational Interviews?
There are three main ways to find work these days:
- Online Job Boards.
- The Hidden Job Market.
You should be using all three because they are all sizeable chunks of the entire job market. However, the hidden job market is getting larger as companies are deciding that they don’t need to spend as much money on advertising their jobs.
We go into detail about what the hidden job market is in another article but simply put, it is all the job opportunities that are not listed online or given to recruiters. You need to do a bit of digging to find them.
That’s where informational interviews come in. There’s a bit more to it, but these conversations are where the magic happens.
An informational interview can do a number of things:
- Help you understand whether you want to pursue a career in a certain industry or role.
- Give you an insight into what it’s like to work at a certain company.
- Build a relationship with someone inside a company you want to work for who can champion you for any future roles.
- Practice talking to the kind of person who might interview you, but in a less pressured setting.
- Help you build your network by finding out the names of other contacts you should talk to.
- Get tips and insider knowledge that will help you with a job application or interview.
- Meet like-minded people who will not only help you progress your career but could become long-term friends or acquaintances.
Would you rather rely on the selection of jobs that are listed online and that a recruiter has in their portfolio at any one time, or would you like to go looking for the job that is perfect for you?
To be clear, you’re not going into an informational interview to ask for work, you’re building a relationship that will potentially lead to a job opportunity. The likelihood that this will happen is high because of the fact that so many jobs are only available on the hidden job market and this is the way to access them.
By finding the right people to talk to, having friendly conversations over coffee and maintaining relationships with them you can build a formidable network that you can tap into at any time to help you throughout your career.
It’s not only useful for finding work. If you are a business owner you could use informational interviews to gain valuable knowledge on what is required in an industry, what problems are faced and what needs updating. All very useful information when planning a way forward for your business.
If you’re wondering how much effort it might take to be doing all these informational interviews, you should be thinking more about the opportunities missed if you don’t. People are more than happy to talk about their careers and industry. They’re even happier to meet ambitious, talented people that could be the perfect fit for their team.
All it takes is to ask them if they’d like to meet and then let them talk about what they love to talk about!
Think long term with informational interviews. Put in the effort now to reap the benefits throughout your career.
Whether it is finding a new job, planning your next upwards move, gaining industry knowledge to help develop your experience or finding potential business partners for a new venture. Informational interviews are an incredibly powerful tool.
All it takes it to find the right contact and have a chat over a coffee.
Do you do informational interviews? We’d love to hear what you think about them.