Many people forget about the power of the informational interview and how using these can help you build relationships, find out important information AND potentially uncover opportunities for your next step.
As an entrepreneur, I am constantly hosting and taking part in informational interviews but it was not until one of my trainees from the Ladders for Leaders Program emailed me with the request for an informational interview that I recognized how important it is to share this lesson with you, my readers. Special thanks to Rachel Wong for being the inspiration behind this post.
You can work on building informational interviews with your first circle of contacts (I talk a lot about circle of networking and who belongs where in my book The Book on Career Readiness: The Prof's Guide to Graduating College with a Job Offer) but the quick overview is that your first circle are friends and family.
Ask, using your elevator value pitch, if you can spend some time either in person or over email with a few questions you have. So first you need your EVP AND you need to know the questions you would like to ask.
The individual you reach out to might suggest meeting in person or just answer your questions via email - either way is useful for you and can help you build out a potential next step for your career.
Your questions should be insightful and also potentially more about the other person than about you. Try to not ask “Where do you think I can find a job?” Instead ask, “What made you pick your career?” or “How did you find the culture at X company?”. These type of questions encourage the interviewee to answer things about themselves that might apply to you or help you rule out a particular career plan or company based off of their feedback.
My recent informational interview by Rachel was all about my previous corporate experiences at Marsh and McGraw-Hill and in answering the questions, I think we landed on a few potential exciting new next steps for the interviewer! Consider trying this today and if you have ever been one of my students either through The Next Step training or even just reading my blog or via actual classroom at St John’s, CSI, Wagner College and Caldwell University, ask away at Lisa@thenextstep1234.com.
Lisa Vento Nielsen