During the past few weeks, I’ve met with many students and recent grads for informational interviews. Some of them have blown me away with professionalism and obvious preparedness; others haven’t quite been up to par.
Below are a few tips on the do’s and don’ts of informational interviews.
Read the company’s blog, check out the online newsroom, understand industry trends and have an understanding about what the company is all about. This will allow you to learn more than the basics from the professional.
Unlike a traditional interview, you should be the one running the show. If you’re expecting the professional to be the one asking all the questions, you might create an awkward and inefficient informational interview.
It’s best to have a short and sweet list of five to seven questions asking about different topics so you don’t take up too much time or make the interview seem unproductive.
Try to get some time on the professional’s calendar a week before (or even earlier). If the meeting has to be canceled or rescheduled, be flexible and offer to schedule a call if that’s easier.
It’s important to take advantage of these opportunities from the time you’re interested in a public relations career through your senior year. Meet with professionals in a variety of industries and organizational settings to gain a full understanding of the profession.
Unless you’re looking for feedback on content or design, informational interviews are meant to be informal and low pressure for both parties.
Whether the interview lasted for five minutes or 30 minutes, a handwritten note will show genuine gratitude, and it’s a great way for that professional to remember you.
Instead, keep in touch with the professional you met with and let them know you’re looking for jobs. If there are no openings at that professional’s organization, you might be connected with other agencies and companies.
What advice do you have for informational interviews? Do you have any informational interview success stories to share?
This is a guest post from Immediate Past President Nick Lucido. He is an account executive with Edelman Digital in Chicago and is open to meeting with PRSSA members for informational interviews — especially if they have read this post.
7 thoughts on “8 Do’s and Don’ts of Informational Interviews”
I have an informational interview to thank for the job I have now! I set up a phone call with someone currently at the company to learn more about her career path, what she likes about her job and any advice she had to break into corporate PR. Although I had no intention of this call being a “so can you get me a job?” kind of conversation, at the end of the call I did mention I had applied a few months before, at which point she offered to pass my resume on to HR. Six days later I had an email asking me to interview.
In this example, I think it shows that beyond learning more about the company, informational interviews allow you to keep yourself at top-of-mind for professionals. Setting up an informational interview and conducting yourself professionally shows initiative that employers look for in employees and interns!
This is a great post. Although they may seem like simple things, these tips can make a HUGE difference! I will read this again before an informational interview and pass it along to my friends.
Exactly! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Julia. It’s a great example of not coming in to an informational interview with high expectations, but I’m glad things worked out well for you.
Glad it helped, Katie!
These are great tips for an informational interview, Nick. Though, I do have to respectfully disagree about not bringing a resume — I think it’s always a good idea to have a few copies of the most up-to-date version on-hand. While you shouldn’t expect the person you’re meeting with to go through it with you like in a real interview, you never know who might ask for a copy of it.
[…] Up until a few months ago, I never considered the option of conducting informational interviews with companies I was interested in working for. I would do the usual: Search online for internship or job postings, apply by the deadline and wait. It wasn’t until my good friend and mentor Brian Price suggested foregoing the online application process and reaching out to companies in a more organic way—by conducting informational interviews. […]