There is a unique and very powerful strategy that can be used while job searching and even when considering an internal career move, this is known as the Informational Interview.
How Informational Interviews help
An Informational Interview involves speaking to as many people as possible about your chosen career path and enables you to find out more information about a company, its culture and values. This approach is designed to help you identify and prepare for key future positions on your preferred career path. It can help you:
- Decide which future career paths do and do not meet your personal career drivers
- Define what specific competencies are most critical for achieving your career aspirations
- Investigate how different, successful people have developed their skills
- Identify what strengths will make you marketable on your preferred career path
- Start building visibility and a network of contacts in your chosen field
Some people often resist the idea of asking people to spend an hour or more discussing career issues, fearing they will respond negatively. But you will be surprised. Many people like to help others and will more than likely see it as a complement that you want to discuss how they have succeeded in their career.
It is best to plan well ahead to get the most out of the Informational Interview. Think through what is important to you in your career and the kind of company culture that meets your values and needs. If you have done some self-assessment exercises go back to your findings and relate your questions around your personal needs. Design a questionnaire and take this with you to the meeting. Use it to remind you of the kind of information you want to obtain and transcribe your findings.
The Informational Interview process should be focussed, relaxed and non threatening.Follow this format to get the most of the meeting:
- Introduction (state your objective and establish rapport)
- Job content (talk through what results are expected, relationships, key decisions, communications required, future growth possibilities)
- Important Qualifications: (what skills, competencies, experiences, training are required for the bar, restaurant or hotel career in question)
- Key Events (what has the person achieved, failed, how and low points, the warts and all?)
- Closure (thanks and what you have learnt from the meeting)
Don’t forget to thank the individual after the meeting, via e-mail or telephone call and keep them informed on how your job searching and career development is going.