5 Questions to Ask in an Informational Interview
Informational interviewing is often misunderstood. Most people believe that the goal is to run through a list of questions with someone to learn about the company where they work and the different roles there. I disagree.
Here’s what informational interviewing really is — an informal conversation where you learn about the other person. As a job seeker, your best way to find opportunities is to connect with people. That means learning more about them than about their companies.
As a job seeker, you should have as many of these informal conversations as you can. Your goal is to walk away from these conversations with a clear sense of what types of jobs and which companies are the best fit for you.
In order to prepare for these meetings think about the following:
– What is the elevator pitch about myself that this person should take away from this meeting?
After leaving the meeting, the person you are talking to should have a clear, concise picture of who you are and what you’re looking for.
– What are ways that I might be able to help this person?
The best meetings are two-way conversations that involve give and take on both sides. Do some research and see if there are people you know or information you might have that could be interesting to the person you’re talking with.
Here are five concrete questions you can ask in your next conversation:
1. What is the most important thing you’ve done to be successful in your company?
This will give you a lot of insight and perspective on what a company is like and if you would fit in.
2. What other companies in the industry do you respect the most?
You can learn about a lot of interesting companies this way and start to develop a set of places that
you should research.
3. If you were in my shoes, where would you look for opportunities?
Don’t be shy about asking for guidance.
4. Who else do you know that you think I should talk with?
The most effective way to meet people is through other people.
5. Is there anything I can do to help you?
Karma is real. If you help others they will help you. All of Silicon Valley is built on a culture of pay it forward.
The more conversations you have, the better you’ll get at it. In the next week, find someone who works in the industry you’re interested in and go grab coffee with them. You can start with a friend, or a friend-of-a-friend, to lower the stakes and ease your transition into informational interviewing.
Know your coffee order cold and always offer to pay for their drink.
Written by Chris Law
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