Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Social networking and job search 7 – informational interviews

Posted in job search and career development by Timothy Platt on October 19, 2009

One of the most powerful tools we have in our job searches is in informational interviews. One of the most abused and misused resources we have is informational interviews, where done badly they turn perhaps key contacts off and close doors on us. I have tried to present the postings in this series in a logical order and this one could have come here or earlier in the sequence as it is really fundamental to effective social networking towards that next great career opportunity.

I have highlighted several times the importance of becoming an insider, and knowing the language and issues and the priorities that you would face if you successfully land your target job. You can gain a lot from professional organizations, web sites, books and journals important to the field and position to want to work in. But the most important and illuminating resource possible is where you get to speak with people in that arena and preferably both at the level you wish to work at and the next level or two above on the table of organization. They can give you immediate, direct, focused feedback and they can share insights with you that you would not necessarily even know to look for. I will add that these are also the people who can best help you in selecting the books, journals, web sites, professional organization memberships, etc. that would be most important for you in you’re becoming that insider. Here, this means tapping into the resources that will help you show you are the answer to the hiring manager’s problems that prompted them to hire in the first place.

So far this sounds simple and straightforward, and it can be. But you have to approach these meetings and interviews with an effective perspective and it is one that you will probably not automatically take in the midst of a job search. This is particularly true of you really need that job now. Informational interviews are strictly for information gathering and it is vital that you make it clear from the start and all the way through that while you might be looking for a job you are not in any way asking this person for one. Targeted job interviews are about specific jobs and their goal is to get hired – actually, the goal of this type of interview is to get that next interview and the next as the hiring manager trims down their candidates list, until ideally you are the only one left and their top choice. Informational interviews are just for gathering information, and that always includes leads to others, some for informational interviews and some possibly regarding specific positions. But the key point is that you should never come across as pressuring the person granting you an informational interview, to hire you. If they have a job they would like to see to you in they will bring that up, and if they think of one later and they were impressed by your professionalism they will get back to you about it. So network for informational interviews and cultivate a network of information sharing contacts to help you find that great position to apply for and to shine when doing so.

Next in this series I am going to post on searching and interviewing with a consultant’s mindset.

4 Responses

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  1. […] web site. You can also review trade journals and other industry oriented documentation and your informational interviews can be invaluable here. • Present yourself as the solution to a hiring manager’s problem. This […]

  2. […] target industries and organizations within them to apply to, a key to success in that is the informational interview. This is where you can most effectively learn the language as used by professionals in the field […]

  3. […] be looking to expand headcount for, that you would be a good fit for. Reality check this with those informational interviews. And as you flesh this out and start developing a basis for moving forward in it repeat this […]

  4. […] I write of being an insider in a job search best practices context (see for example my posting on informational interviews, which can be of help in this context for conducting your new business due diligence research.) […]


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