Information Interviews are one of the best ways to discover what careers are available in your communities and how they may (or may not!) work for you. The information you can gain from information interviews can provide you with so much more than what you can get from social media or the internet.
Why would someone take the time to talk or meet with me?
People are often hesitant about approaching employers to conduct an information meeting. Having done over 20 information interviews over 3 career transitions I can tell you that employers are willing to give you the time, and more often that not welcome the interactions.
Here are 4 reasons why:
- People like to talk about themselves – think about the common question you are often asked when you meet someone at a party or event – what do you do?
- Proactive employers are always looking for new employees (even when there are no openings). There is always turnover in companies and so it makes sense to have people in mind in case openings happen. Smart employers know this.
- Employers may be looking to move to another industry, company or transition to a new career themselves, so they will be open to networking opportunities.
- Most employers also like to help people out – it’s human nature to want to help others. And by meeting people in person employers can learn a lot more about them, than can be found on a resume, application, or the web.
Pitfalls of approaching employers
When contacting employers to meet for an information interview avoid these pitfalls:
- Asking for time – but not being specific.
Ideally you want to ask for 15-20 minutes of their time (conveniently a coffee break). This helps address the objection: “I’m too busy.” Honour the time you have asked for – making sure you wrap up when you said you would. Often employers will give you more time – but ensure you honour the time asked first.
- Making it all about you!
Yes you want the employer to understand about your qualifications, but remember this meeting is about research – you are researching the company, the person you are meeting with and their role. It’s not about you monopolizing the conversation about how great you are!
- Not asking for referrals
Always end your meeting with, “Do you know someone I could speak to further about _______ (particular career, industry, role)?
- Being unprepared.
I’ve also conducted many information interviews from the employer’s side and seen my fill of too many unprepared jobseekers. Take the time to do a little research on the company prior to your meeting so you avoid asking obvious questions that can be answered by your research.
Compile a list of questions you plan to ask so use the employer’s time wisely. This also shows you are organized and can manage time – both skills employers are looking for in new employees.
- Lack of follow-up
Always follow up with a written thank you card after your meeting. Not an email that is easily deleted.
Continue to check in once a month with the person you met with, with a short note, email or call. Keep your new contacts in the loop as to how your research is going. If they do refer you to someone else to meet, ensure you thank them and let them know once you’ve met their referral how the meeting went.
Progressus Therapy illustrates in this great infographic the knowledge that can be gained from an information interview. It demonstrates the differences between a career as an Occupational Therapist and as a Physical or Physio Therapist. Progressus Therapy is a national company that partners with school districts and early intervention programs to match therapy candidates with careers. They’re focused on placing professionals in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology, but they also offer a wide variety of careers on their site (https://www.invocompanies.com/) *
So why not try doing an information interview. It just might be the start to a new career! Reach out to me or another coach if you need the support to begin doing these meetings!
*Thanks to Samantha Trejo, Straight North for providing this infographic.
(This article was originally posted on Noomii Career Blog)