MARKETING • CREATIVE • DIGITAL
The Benefit of Informational Interviews in the COVID Era
As COVID-19 continues to disrupt our personal and work lives in ways we could only have imagined a couple of years ago, it seems opportunities to network and make professional connections are fewer and farther between than ever before.
With so much uncertainty, it’s no surprise it can be challenging for organizations and industry groups to plan large, in-person networking events. Gone are the days of mingling during leisurely lunch seminars and industry happy hours…at least for now.
And yet, during a time dubbed “The Great Resignation,” it’s more important than ever to expand your network and be open to new opportunities. So, whether you’re an experienced worker or a student looking for your first internship, DO NOT overlook the informational interview.
Informational interviews can be conducted in-person or virtually and are an excellent way to leverage personal, one-on-one connections and create a more meaningful network in your job search.
Practice your interview skills
As important as an informational interview is, it can feel like less pressure which is good practice for actual interviews. When you meet with someone you already know or are familiar with, it can ease your nerves and allow you to practice speaking about your experiences in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Hone your elevator pitch
Informational interviews are the perfect time to practice and refine your elevator pitch. This should be a brief introduction (2-3 sentences) you can use at networking events, job interviews, or really anywhere to tell someone about you, your experience, and what you do. With a bit of practice, you should be able to introduce yourself clearly and confidently whenever you meet someone who might have a lead on an opportunity.
Test your technology
As virtual interviews become more common, an informational interview is a great opportunity to test and become familiar with your technology before getting in the hot seat for an actual interview. There are few things more unnerving than finally securing a job interview only to make your first impression while struggling with technical difficulties. Test your camera and microphone. Be sure you (and your background) look professional and minimize background noise.
Make a good impression
Whether meeting in person or online, it is equally important to present yourself as you would for a job interview. Dress professionally and be mindful of your posture and body language. If you are meeting virtually and have the option for a video chat, use it. It’s much easier to connect with someone with the camera on.
Do your homework
Just as you would for a job interview, it’s important to prepare for your informational interview ahead of time. Do some research to familiarize yourself with the company and the person with whom you’ll meet. This will allow you to ask insightful questions and get more meaningful answers.
Expand your network
Job hunting is all about who you know and how you utilize your network. Reaching out to LinkedIn connections or asking for introductions from friends, family, and past co-workers is a great way to expand the people you know. In addition, most people are incredibly willing to meet for lunch or coffee or even online for informational interviews, and these interviews create lasting relationships for your future job search or career aspirations.
You can read countless articles about a particular industry and research for days about different companies, but talking to an actual employee in the industry or company you’re aiming for is invaluable insight. You may want to consider setting up informational interviews with people who work at organizations you’re considering can provide a deeper and more accurate view of the company and what it’s like to work there.
Gain an edge
If the person you’ve met within an informational interview has any clout in the hiring process, use it! Ask if you can reference them or, better yet, if they would be willing to refer you to the hiring manager or recommend you. Companies typically take referrals from their employees into careful consideration, and any sort of recommendation from your connection can help you get your foot in the door.
Each company has its own distinct hiring process, some are incredibly thorough, and some are just a couple of interviews. Your contact at the company can help you prepare for this process in advance.
Be sure to connect with the person you met with after the interview. Thank them for their time, and make sure they know how much you appreciate the insights and feedback they shared. And don’t hesitate to offer to return the favor if there’s anything you can do to help them. Networking is a two-way street.
Keep in touch
Now that you’ve made this valuable connection don’t lose it. Check in from time to time. If they are still at the same company, ask how things are going and what new projects they are working on currently. If they’ve moved on, find out where they are working now and perhaps what prompted the change. Let them know where you are now and what you’re up to in your career. You never know when you might cross paths again.
Bottom line, don’t overlook the importance and value of setting up informational interviews. They may take more time and effort than sending your resume to all potential employers, but their impact on your job search is considerable.
Ready to move beyond informational and into other interviews? Consider working with Celarity to access jobs that aren’t posted online. Reach out to us!