Education Career Services

November 25, 2009

Informational Interviews, What the Heck?

Offering support to as many people as possible via multiple mediums, I am an advocate of social networking.  As such, I am on LinkedIn and often respond to questions posted on that site.  I’m easy to find and welcome you to take the first step and invite me to join your network.  After all, we all need a helping hand now and then!

Below is one question (and my response) recently submitted on LinkedIn.  I bring this to you as the question may be pertinent to just about everyone, including students and directors at all levels…

What is the best way to ask someone for an interview when they might not have been looking to hire someone?

Hate to tell you but there are no fail-safe ways to ask someone for an interview when they might not be looking to hire someone.  As a matter of professionalism, I do not recommend anyone asking for an interview, per se. 

Place yourself in the shoes of the recipient: would you want such unsolicited requests directed to you?  You probably would not.  But there is a way to get around the situation without sounding pushy or overly aggressive.  In this capacity, let’s change the focus around and NOT ask for an interview but request for an informational discussion.  True, pretty much the same thing but the purpose of an informational discussion is to develop networking ties AND ignite insight into a company’s philosophy and needs.  With this approach, your goal is to discover issues within the industry or company which you can resolve.  No longer is your question considered a liability and an attack, it is considered a means to correct…whereas the value you offer can then be taken advantage of.

 I notice you are an architect with a solid background in the field.  This intellectual capital is of great value, even if a company is not actively seeking to secure a position.  Your goal is to highlight the value and instant contribution you offer and, oftentimes, will lead to the creation of a position or contact to fellow peers who would benefit from your expertise. 

 I’ve written a good number of books dealing with career management and discuss informational interviews within a college textbook used throughout the US (heck, if you know any colleges needing a great career management portfolio textbook, let me know and if you know the career director, even better!).  Anyway, I am going to highlight one of the pages and use the copy to help guide your question:

 “…. You might be asking, “What exactly are informational interviews?” And you might also be thinking, just from the sound of it, that informational interviews are going to take way, way too much time to research and conduct. 

 It’s certainly true that informational interviews will take time and work.  Be assured, informational interviews reap benefits relative to the cost, stress, and, yes, even time, which are all important concerns and issues in any job search campaign.  Truth be known, informational interviews offer benefits at a low cost and could be the most efficient way to locate and secure a career. 

As this submission has been somewhat lengthy, let’s take a quick breather and come back tomorrow with the conclusion.  Speaking of which, tomorrow’s submission will delve much deeper into the process of informational interviews.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

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September 28, 2009

Are You Hiring?

Just recently, a friend of mine asked if I knew the best way to ask someone for an interview when they might not have been looking to hire someone?

The following is my response which I believe will be helpful to many of our readers…

Hate to tell you but there are no fail-safe ways to ask someone for an interview when they might not be looking to hire someone.  As a matter of professionalism, I do not recommend anyone asking for an interview, per se. 

Place yourself in the shoes of the recipient: would you want such unsolicited requests directed to you?  You probably would not.  But there is a way to get around the situation without sounding pushy or overly aggressive.  In this capacity, let’s change the focus around and NOT ask for an interview but request for an informational discussion.  True, pretty much the same thing but the purpose of an informational discussion is to develop networking ties AND ignite insight into a company’s philosophy and needs.  With this approach, your goal is to discover issues within the industry or company which you can resolve. 

No longer is your question considered a liability and an attack, it is considered a means to correct…whereas the value you offer can then be taken advantage of.  Your goal is to highlight the value and instant contribution you offer and, oftentimes, will lead to the creation of a position or contact to fellow peers who would benefit from your expertise. 

I’ve written a good number of books dealing with career management and discuss informational interviews (heck, if you know any colleges needing a great career management portfolio textbook and/or instructor resource guide, let me know and if you know the career director, even better!).  Anyway, I am going to highlight one of the pages and use the copy to help guide your question regarding informational interviews:

…. You might be asking, “What exactly are informational interviews?” And you might also be thinking, just from the sound of it, that informational interviews are going to take way, way too much time to research and conduct. 

It’s certainly true that informational interviews will take time and work.  Be assured, informational interviews reap benefits relative to the cost, stress, and, yes, even time, which are all important concerns and issues in any job search campaign.  Truth be known, informational interviews offer benefits at a low cost and could be the most efficient way to locate and secure a career.

For example, informational interviews will:

         Help you learn about careers within the industry
         Can be used to gauge company culture and if you fit in
         Help develop life-long networks
         Give insight into the non-advertised job market
         Give insight for scheduled interviews
         Develop rapport and referrals

Overall, informational interviews give you a leg up against other candidates AND can be used as an indicator when evaluating career matches.  For the record, informational requests are not to be used as a mechanism to ask for a job or a formal interview. This is not the time or the place to be an aggressive job seeker. If you think about it, that takes pressure off you and the person you interview, so now you can do some serious learning.  You know about the benefits, let’s look at your next step.

We’ll go over the final part of this question tomorrow as we delve into possible informational interview questions.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

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