If you are looking to find a job, earn that promotion or want to learn more about a new industry, informational interviews are an excellent, low-stakes way to gain information that will be helpful as you look to level up in your career.
Do Your Research
Before you start reaching out to CEOs of successful companies like Jukin Media, make sure to do your research about the company and the person you’ll be interviewing. Find out about the origins of the company and its founders, any particularly challenging times in the company’s history and how those difficulties were overcome. Make sure that you are familiar with the workings of the company, its product offerings and relevant statistics so that you can speak with familiarity on any topic that comes up. Don’t forget to have information ready about yourself, your background and goals so that you won’t be flummoxed when the conversation turns in that direction.
Now that you’ve done the prep work for your interview, you need to get it scheduled. Start by going through your contacts and business networks to see if there are any mutual connections, whether they’re first or second degree. You or a friend of a friend likely knows someone who is connected to the company where the person you’re seeking to interview works. Once you’ve made that connection, ask that person if they have any ideas for how to best approach that person, then simply ask using the format recommended by your contact, whether it’s by email, phone or letter. Make it clear to the person you wish to interview that you are not asking for a job but simply asking them to share their story and advice.
Prepare Your Questions
Now that you’ve scheduled your interview, it’s time to have a list of questions ready to go. Below are some examples of questions that will be useful to you as you seek to grow in your career:
- What education and character traits have you found to be necessary for success?
- How have you overcome challenges in your field?
- What technology do I need to become familiar with to excel in this business?
- Where do you see this industry going in the next few years?
- Do you know of anyone else that I should interview?
On the day of your interview, dress professionally but in a way that is in keeping with or slightly better than the company’s typical dress code. Do your best to memorize your questions and be prepared to ask them without it sounding forced and practice relaying information about yourself so that the interviewee can tailor their answers to your particular situation. As eager as you will be to remember this information, try to take notes sparingly so that you can remain engaged in the conversation without making it feel like you’re taking notes in class.
Now that you’ve done the hard work of preparing for, securing and conducting the interview, send a thank-you note and start using the information you have gleaned to move forward in your profession.
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