Home > Getting the interview > Informational Interviews
The chance that you will get an interview shoots up if your application for the job is customized for the company you are applying to. Successful applications highlight specific challenges the company might be facing and how the candidate is the best person to solve those problems. Applications that mention specific details about everyday problems on the job with concrete suggestions get picked up for serious consideration.
But how to get the inside scoop on the company or the job you are applying for?
The best way is to just talk to someone in the company who is working in the similar position you are applying for. This short meeting with someone important within the company who can give you the information you need and can actually recommend you for the job is called informational interview. I must say that it is not easy to get an informational interview with the right person. The reason being either the person is busy or what’s in it for them? Why should they talk to a stranger?
But people by nature are kind and want to help if you ask the right way and if they do not have to go out of their way to do it. The following pointers seem to help in getting an informational interview:
· Ask for a short meeting over lunch. People usually eat lunch outside of work and can afford to talk during that time because it is the time they have already allocated.
· Send them an agenda ahead of time with specifics on what you want them to talk about. But do not have a long agenda. Have a maximum of 5 points to talk about and leave the rest of the time for Q&A.
· Ask for a 15 min meeting – it usually extends to 30 minutes.
· Ask through a reference – “so and so suggested you are the best person to speak about…”
· Choose either Thursdays or Fridays for the meeting. Early week is usually busy for most people.
· Ask someone from the same school/college as you went to or from the same town. People usually have soft spots for people with whom they have something in common.
During the informational interview:
· Have a crisp script ready to introduce yourself and set the agenda for the meeting. The introduction must contain relevant details about your education and work experience so that the person knows whom he is talking to. A great introduction will get him interested in talking to you and set the tone for a productive meeting.
· Ask the person about typical day at work, challenges on the job, be prepared to talk about recent events in the company etc. The bottom line – let the person talk as much as possible and get the relevant information from him.
· Don’t take extensive notes. Let the conversation flow freely.
· Be courteous and do not interrupt when he is talking but be prepared to bring him back on topic if he goes off on tangent.
· Order food that does not distract you from your main objective of the meeting.
· Tell him that you are very interested in the specific position and you would appreciate if he recommends you for the position to the hiring manager
· Be prepared to give him your resume if he asks for it
· Take his contact and tell him that you will send him your resume with the cover letter and ask whether he will forward it to the hiring manager. Most companies have referral bonus programs so he will also benefit if you get hired.
· Insist on paying for his lunch and thank him for his time.
A good informational interview is your opportunity to impress someone important within the company so that he recommends you for the position. It is also an opportunity to learn as much about the company and the position as you can so that you can customize your application, which will improve your chances of getting an interview.
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