I met with Elizabeth this morning. Elizabeth is a freshly minted grad from Sheridan College’s postgraduate public relations program. We’d never met before. But I know the person who suggested Elizabeth pay a visit. So we got together for an informational interview.
I was doing informational interviews 19 years ago. Like Elizabeth, I was a recent grad. I too was job hunting at a time when the economy wasn’t exactly booming. I applied to every job in the classifieds and fired off unsolicited resumes to more than 100 employers.
This kept me busy. I built up an impressive collection of rejection letters. But it wasn’t getting me a job.
So I started booking informational interviews with senior PR professionals. For 20 minutes, I asked questions. What did they like most about their jobs? What was the biggest challenge? What skills do they look for in new hires? What advice would they give to recent grads? I never asked if they’d hire me. And I always sent a thank you note.
One of the people I met with posted a job a month later. I applied. The manager remembered me from our informational interview. He liked my initiative and sense of humour. I landed the gig that launched my career.
Informational interviews aren’t just good for job seekers. They answer the one question all employers ask. Could I see myself spending 8 hours a day working with this person? Would they be a joy or a pain? Would they be a problem solver or a problem child? Would they make my life easier or more stressful? Are they firmly grounded or have they cut the tether to reality?
Now,the person you meet with may not be hiring anytime soon. But odds are they have a colleague at another organization who is. And that colleague is open to endorsements and recommendations because they too want to make a low-risk, drama-free hire.
So…have you ever done informational interviews? Did it work for you? And what was the best question you asked during your interviews?