careerBUZZ: Informational Interviews 101

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - 9:02am

Ever heard of an informational interview? We have all been on the other side of the table from a potential employer--our hands are sweating, leg twitching up and down, hoping to not get that one really hard questions that we saw in the Career Guide. But, oh how the tables have turned! Now is your chance to interview the interviewer. Informational interviews are a tool to learn more about a potential career where you meet with a current professional and chat about their job. Still not convinced?

Here are 5 reasons why informational interviews can help you in your own professional development:

1. Find out more about a potential career: This is the perfect time to gain relevant, first-hand information about the career you are exploring. Ask questions that can’t be found on Google like: What does the day-to-day workday look like? What are the highs? Lows? Challenges? What makes this work fulfilling? Anything that you can think of that is relevant to the position- ask them! That’s what the meeting is for, after all. Don’t forget to ask your interviewee about their own path to the job. You’d be surprised to find out some of the ways that people have found their dream jobs.

2. Network, network, network: Growing your own professional network is never a bad thing! Often times, these professionals can pass along your information to another person with more knowledge to help you. You never know what professional has the information to help you land that perfect job by the time graduation hits.

3. Practice communication skills and build confidence interacting with employers: Practice makes perfect! Informational interviews are a great setting to practice your communication skills and build your confidence. These meetings can be as casual as chatting over coffee or as formal as visiting your interviewee in office. Just remember, they are there to help and talk to you. There is no need to be nervous.

4. Ask questions about your own professional development: On a campus with hundreds of clubs and organizations to join, how could you possibly know which one is best? Ask your interviewee what they think. Have them check out your resume, tell them about your future professional development plans, and see what they think about your progress.

5. Find a potential professional mentor: Mentors are the professional buddies you need that can give you the best advice and point you to the best career opportunities. Did you have an enjoyable and helpful conversation with your interviewee? Stay in close contact with them, ask more questions when they come to you, or let them know how you are doing in your own professional development. Never underestimate the power of having a mentor.

-Written by Kelsey Howe, Peer Advisor