Informational interviews, unlike traditional interviews, are casual, informal meetings between you and someone working in an industry or company you are interested in. It’s a great way to know if that career path is the right fit for you. It’s a crucial step in your job search that would help you make the right decisions as to whether to follow your current career path or change to something else. Informational interviews are also a great way to network and meet future potential employers.

Use these tips to maximise your next informational interview.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask

Asking for an informational interview can be a little uncomfortable especially if it’s a stranger and not someone you know. Remember that everybody likes to feel important so most people would be willing to accept your request. Think of yourself as a reporter interviewing an expert for a research article. Send an email to the person telling them exactly what you are trying to achieve.

  1. Prepare.

Informational interviews are a safe environment to ask questions. In order to ask reasonable and informative questions, you have to do your research. Learn who the big players in the industry are, the industry lingo, and learn the important industry trends. You would be taken more seriously if you know the industry’s vocabulary and if you ask great questions not Google-able questions.

  1. Keep it short.

It’s important to respect people’s time especially your interviewee who has made time out of their busy schedule to answer your questions. So, be time-conscious and make a note to not exceed your given time. When you have a couple of minutes left, let them know how many minutes you have left and how you don’t want to overstay your welcome; this way they can either extend the meeting if they want or bring it to a close.

  1. Mind your manners.

During an informational interview, you have to be professional, courteous and appreciate the help provided. If the interview is a breakfast or lunch meeting, endeavor to pay for it. It’s recommended that you arrive 10 to 15 minutes early for the interview; avoid getting to the meeting late. Dress appropriately for the interview. Remember to put your phone on silent mode before the start of the meeting.

  1. Timing is everything.

  It is usually better to do an informational interview when you have a job not when you are seeking one. Informational interviews are meant to help you explore not focus on a specific position. Having a job helps take the pressure off you and the person being interviewed.

  1. Don’t forget to say thank you.

After the interview, thank the person for their time and advice. It’s advised to send a thank you via email. Sending a thank you gift is also not a bad idea. Also, remember not to ask for favours immediately as that’s considered rude.

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