The Best Kept Secret for Career Planning – The Informational Interview, Part 3

by Lisa on October 13, 2009

6. What characteristics have you noticed that enable a person in your field to succeed?
7. What kind of education and training is needed for this job?
8. Where do you see this industry going in the future?
9. How do you stay current in your field and “on top of your game”?
10. Is there anyone else you recommend I can talk to in relation to this career/field?

These are by all means just suggestions, so feel free to choose the ones you like and add your own. It is a good idea to ask one or 2 questions to demonstrate you’ve done your research and therefore prove your sincere interest. Asking something related specifically to the field or a related article about the person are a couple ways to do this.

After the Interview

So you asked some great questions, got some invaluable insights, and thanked them for their time. Now what? Send another thank you! They’ve done you a great service, show your appreciation. An e-mail is one way to do this, but according to Darren at www.darrenbarefoot.com, a thank-you card is “extra classy”. That sounds like a lot of brownie points to me. (If you want more great tips on informational interviews, click here.)

Another good idea is to jot down any notes immediately after the interview – especially things that struck out at you. You can take notes during the interview if you like, but as it is quite brief, it’d be better to devote your time building that relationship and getting to know your interviewee and their position.

Self-reflect. It’s not cheesy! Think about what you’ve learned from the interview. After all the aim is educational. Are you still interested in the position? Why or why not? Did the interview dispel any preconceived notions you had of the position? What skills and training do you need to gain in order to make yourself competitive? The list goes on.

Just a few more tips and reminders…

I know I said it at the very beginning, this is NOT a job interview, but please do keep this in mind. Be sincere and honest. At the same time, this still has a potential to become a job interview later. If you are truly skilled at being subtle, you may even be able to do it during the informational interview. Be careful – You can really turn people off if you make them feel deceived.

Send a follow-up of some kind: handwritten note, e-mail, a card. In a job interview, those who get remembered and eventually hired do this. It’s also so helpful when trying to be remembered after an informational interview.

Dress professional. This is not as formal as a job interview, but it is still important to look nice. Business casual should be fine.

An informational interview is a great educational tool in learning more about your career and field of choice. If you are considering a job change or are unemployed, seriously consider an informational interview. Now that you know, try it!

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

kate October 13, 2009 at 6:40 am

Even though a handwritten note seems like overkill, it is a great way to continue the conversation with the person you interviewed.

Think of it this way, that little handwritten note will be unusual, will probably sit on his/her desk and be a reminder of you . . . when someone who may have the ability/authority/interest to hire you happens to call.

It’s a good idea to send the note even if you feel like it makes you a suck-up. The receiver will know you’ve gone the extra mile. If the receiver is the kind of person who writes notes . . . guess what, you’ve just made a strong ally. I’ve earned thousands of dollars on clients who wouldn’t have thought to hire me (our fields are too different) because of that kind of awareness of cultural norms. They manage to find a way to work me into projects because they want to have me on the team even if it isn’t immediately obvious why.

Kate

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Jose Escalante October 13, 2009 at 7:08 am

Taking note while the person is talking is a great idea. They will think your smart and people like know others knowing that you think what they are saying is important. Plus it will help you remember what you talked about.

Jose Escalante
http://www.joseescalante.com

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Lisa October 13, 2009 at 10:18 am

That is true Jose. Taking notes does show you value the opinion. What I meant is more along the lines of — Don’t take too many notes. Eye contact is an important part of communication and helps build rapport. If your eyes are down while you scrawl away, the interviewee may feel you are more interested in notes rather than them as a person.

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Rob Northrup October 13, 2009 at 2:55 pm

The handwritten thank you note will set you apart from 95% of the people you are competing with in life.

This is true in sales, as well as personal relationships.

Buy blank cards from the store and keep them near. Put them in the mail no later than the NEXT DAY.

If you do this with heartfelt personal notes, you WILL stand out from the crowd- this is a $100,000 tip as it relates to your life.

Seize the Day,
Rob

Simple Survival Tips For Disasters and Emergencies

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Keri Eagan October 13, 2009 at 3:30 pm

The handwritten thankyou is a great idea for the informational interview. Excellent tips and warning noted!

Keri Eagan
Anything Alternative

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Darryl Pace October 13, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Sending a thank you note and reflecting on the interview are both solid suggestions.

Health, Fitness for Working People — Darryl Pace

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Vegas Boomer Dating Expert October 13, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Hi Kate,

While it is not a job interview, they can BECOME one. I agree, dress for success!

I’m totally cool that they take serious notes DURING the info interview. I even take notes during an interview! (Sales, we do those things)

And one of the best ways to stand out in a stellar way?

Is to send an actual HANDWRITTEN thank you note.

The last info interview I GAVE, and I GAVE him ideas and connections no note. I even made a point of GIVING HIM my snail mail saying, so you can send me a thank you note.

clod

Handwritten thank you notes put you in the 95-100 %tile.

Instead of being with the all the rest who only sent an email (still a GOOD thing!)

Happy Dating and Relationships,

April Braswell
Single Boomer Dating Expert

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Steve Chambers October 14, 2009 at 2:35 am

Good questions to ask. A note is always a good idea.

Steve Chambers
Sales Training Speaker

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Lisa McLellan October 27, 2009 at 7:56 pm

The thank you note is so important. People really enjoy knowing they were appreciated. Great advice.

Lisa McLellan
Babysitting Services – Babysitter in your area

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Greg Dougall November 25, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Hi. I wanted to say thanks for keeping up the great work and also wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! Keep in touch…
Greg Dougall, Philanthropist-in-Training

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