Career Advice, Interviews

Don’t Overlook The Power Of Informational Interviews

Similar to objective statements on résumés, career experts often disagree about the value of informational interviews. However, in my mind, the benefits of informational interviews clearly outweigh the costs.

Let’s talk about the down-sides first:

  • You can’t ask for a job. In fact, don’t ask for a job. This is one of the unspoken rules about informational interviews.
  • They take time and typically don’t have immediate results. Like anything, informational interviews take time out of your day (and the individual with whom you are meeting), and while you’ll probably walk away with follow-up “assignments,” you won’t have a job in hand. But, the same is almost always the case with formal interviews, too.

That’s pretty much it for the “cons” of informational interviews. On to the “pros”:

  • You become more than a résumé. When you meet with a hiring manager (note: don’t contact HR for an informational interview!) face-to-face, they tend to remember you better than if you’re just a piece of paper in a stack.
  • The networking connections are fabulous. Thinking back to the informational interviews I’ve conducted with candidates, I’ve given away contacts who would never be accessible to them without having met with me. One meeting suddenly turns into two or more. Check out this recent success story.
  • You uncover resources you didn’t know existed. It’s impossible to know every tool at your fingertips. However, even the quickest informational interviews will point you in new directions that hadn’t crossed your mind.
  • You discover new companies that are hiring and/or interests you didn’t know you had. A good informational interviewer will quiz you about your workplace preferences, helping you uncover new opportunities and avenues to try out.

Have you ever conducted an informational interview as either a candidate or hiring manager? What have your experiences been?