November 21, 2022 3 min read

Prepare Yourself

Today your professor surprised the class with something you were expecting but weren't looking forward to. It's time for each of you to prepare questions, practice holding interviews and research the positions you want to have once you graduate. But that's not the part that worries you. You'll have to use your social network to build connections and interview professionals you've never met. While it might be intimidating to interact with established professionals in positions you hope to land, it's a valuable experience. Informational interviews allow you to connect with professionals in the industry you are pursuing and learn from the experiences they've faced throughout their careers. If the thought of conducting an informational interview scares you, knowing how to prepare for one might alleviate some of your anxiety.

Where to Start

So, where do you start? Once your questions are finalized, ask yourself if any of your contacts could be the bridge connecting you to people who could help you reach your career goals. If your contacts can help, politely ask for an introduction. Be upfront and mention what you are trying to accomplish. For example, if you want to be a marketing coordinator, review your contacts and research marketing coordinators on LinkedIn who work in your city. Ask colleagues and peers in the industry if they know anyone you could speak with to gather more information about the role.

Man calling connections

Practice

You've contacted a few people and received a yes or two. The next step is to arrange a convenient time to talk, whether in person over coffee, virtually, or over the phone. Before each and every informational interview you should:

  1. Practice reading the questions to reduce your anxiety. Once you're comfortable, your questions will sound smooth and natural.
  2. Remember to relax and keep a bottle of water or something you like to drink close by in case you feel thirsty or need a second to regain your composure.
  3. If you're meeting at a coffee shop or another public place, make sure you find a spot that is somewhat secluded and private to reduce distractions and interruptions.

What to Say?

Research and know who you're speaking to avoid asking questions that could be answered by reading their online profile. You should first build a rapport by acknowledging their accomplishments, then move into your questions and demonstrate a keen interest by taking detailed notes of their answers. Another thing you can do is ask for permission to record the interview. These days smartphone users have access to an application or an online store which allows you to download a program to record audio. Recording the interview will make it easier to focus and allow you to ask follow-up questions you may not have initially thought of.

recording

Closing

Once the interview is over, the only thing left is to thank your interviewee for their time. One approach would be to ask if you could keep in contact. If you already have their social media handle, ask if they would mind reviewing your portfolio. Having a connection with experience in the industry, who is willing to review your work, is an invaluable advantage you can use to learn and grow. 

Thanking the interviewer

The Choice is Yours

With all your research and interviews, you'll be more equipped to decide if your chosen career path is the right one for you. If your interest in the role hasn't wavered after the informational interviews, keep learning and making new connections in the industry. If you're no longer interested in the position, you may need to know more about what motivates you and what you want out of a career. After all, as Confucius once said, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." In the end, the choice is yours.


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