Top 5 Tips | Conducting an Impressive Informational Interview
Making the Call (image: Old Telephones)
by: Grayson Leverenz
Last week we covered the top 5 tips for securing an informational interview. If all went well, and you’ve scheduled at least one, then we should go over the top 5 tips for conducting an impressive informational interview.
1. Be respectful of the person’s time.
People today are incredibly busy, whether they are recent MBA grads, seasoned professionals or second year students. Americans by nature manage their schedules closely, and place a high value on their time. The famous quote, “Time is money” pretty much sums it up.
Keep this in mind when you’re booking informational interviews, and plan accordingly. If you schedule for Monday at 10:00am, make every effort to call right on time. Steer the conversation so it flows naturally and ends on time as well.
2. Be prepared.
Informational interviews by design are informal, but it is important to remember that recruiters evaluate potential new hires at every opportunity. They want to make sure you would be a good fit with the culture of the company, and would reflect positively on them if they were to recommend you for the next phase in the recruiting process.
With this in mind, I cannot express enough the importance of being prepared when you conduct an informational interview. Do your research on the company prior to making the call, and weave your knowledge into your questions and dialogue.
3. Ask meaningful questions.
An informational interview is just that; it’s your time to gather information on what could be your future employer. If there is a part of the business that truly excites you (e.g. a new global sustainability effort), now is a great time to ask about it. Recruiters will love your enthusiasm and will be excited to share information on new initiatives with you. Likewise, if you have concerns about a particular aspect of the role (e.g. work/life balance), now is the time to ask. Be sure to practice the wording of any concerns to ensure you frame them in a clear, positive manner.
4. Open the door to further dialogue.
Always end an informational interview with the question, “Is there anyone else you think I should talk to?” This is the single most important question you will ask throughout the hiring process. It shows that you value the opinion of the person you’re talking to, and it helps continue the progression through a company that interests you. When it comes time to choose candidates for closed list interviews, the more people that know your name and have interacted with you, the greater your chances of making the list.
5. Send a thank you note.
Within 24 hours of holding an informational interview, email a thank you note. It should be polished, but can be informal, especially if the discussion was with an alum only a class or two ahead of you. Often people will forward your thank you note with a brief summary of your discussion to the other members of their Recruiting team. A well crafted note creates a nice introduction to the people that could be your future colleagues.