Take the career fast-track with Informational interviews – What are they and why do them?

The rise in the use of informational interviews over the past few years is really no surprise, in light of the dramatic and rapid changes we have seen in the jobs market, not to mention the ever-shifting sands of job and economic security. The traditional routes of job-finding  and career development are now almost defunct. Statistics show, and most people are amazed, that applying online is the least effective way to land a job, so much so that it is almost useless now as a route to a new job, using recruitment agencies is even less successful and internal sourcing and word-of-mouth referrals dominate how jobs are filled.

Those who are succeeding, are using those statistics and adapting to the new landscape by finding new ways to CREATE work opportunities. Pro-active creation is indeed the order of the day. Finding your own opportunities and ways to get on companies and hiring manager’s radars, showcasing your suitability and value-adding capabilities in person, capitalises on that good old fashioned, person-to-person magic.  These people are not only creatively side-stepping the competition, but in some cases, the entire recruitment process.

The modern way to get a job is more akin to a commercial approach for new business, maybe out of necessity as a response to the unstable economic climate people are more interested in taking their future and security into their own hands.  For many, this direct approach is considerably out of  the usual comfort zones, using headhunters or recruiters to do the job for you, but we all know, fortune favours the bold! If you want to take the career fast-track and you’re happy to take responsibility for your career, then this is the route for you!

What is an informational interview?

It is a short meeting you set up with an individual who is working in the position or organisation or industry you want to work, with the purpose of learning more about that career or organisation. It essentially is about getting the inside track on everything you need and want to know. You find out firsthand what it is like from a day-to-day perspective to work in that role or for that company.

Why would you conduct an informational interview?

  • You want to get into a specific organisation.
  • You want to change career.
  • You want to start a business.
  • You want to develop your network to get more exposure in order to develop your existing career.

How will you benefit from an informational interview?

  • Gather valuable information from industry professionals on career planning and job search strategies.
  • Discover the “realties” of a particular career field and what is it really like to work in a given industry.
  • Evaluate whether the career is compatible with your skills, interests, lifestyle and goals.
  • Receive specific suggestions on how and where to acquire the experience and knowledge required.
  • Develop confidence in interviewing with professionals by discussing your interests and goals.
  • Gain access to the hidden job market. Over 80% of quality jobs are secured through networking.
  • Expand your network of contacts in your field of interest for future opportunities
  • Gain referrals to other professionals in the same field for additional networking.
  • Information is power and you will get the inside track on exactly the information you need for your next move or not.
  • You strategically develop your network in the direction you want, not only through the contact you meet, but through the contacts they suggest you speak to further.
  • You create a platform/opportunity to show yourself as a suitable fit and someone who can add value to that organisation.
  • You put yourself directly on to someone’s radar whether for new roles or business opportunities.

Informational interviews have so many benefits, it is something everyone should try and I bet, everyone would benefit from. Whether you’re interested in changing career, getting more exposure in your current role and industry, expanding your network or wanting to set up your own business, using the existing knowledge and resources of those all around you who are experienced in doing exactly what you are aiming to do, is a no-brainer.

What subjects are most commonly covered in informational interviews?

  • Work Environment
  • Ideal Skill Set/Qualifications
  • Industry Trends and Future
  • Career Path of Interviewee
  • Lifestyle
  • Typical Compensation
  • Challenges/Rewards
  • Career Ladder of Field


Interestingly, this is not a DIRECT way to get a new job, it is part of a wider process of learning, exploring, strategically meeting people and working through some other strategic steps, so never, never, ever ask someone FOR a job in an informational interview.

  • It is of course advisable to add your new contact to LinkedIN and follow up with a thank you email.
  • It is also important to ask this person at the end of your meeting, if there is anyone else they know who you should be talking to.
  • If it seems appropriate to ask this person, in your thank you email to glance over your CV, than do that, but it is your call and I would ask very informally in the follow up email as opposed to at the meeting.

If you want to learn more about how to implement this strategy or have an interest in how SEVEN Career Coaching can help you Book your free phone consultation here today and talk directly to us about your career.


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By | 2017-12-04T02:44:22+00:00 March 20th, 2013|Blog|0 Comments

About the Author:

SEVEN Founder, Evelyn Cotter, London.