An informational interview is an easy way of gathering first-hand information about the skills and personal qualities needed to succeed in a job. It’s not a job interview, that’s what makes it so well.
Who do you talk to?
People can help you answer career questions too. But you will not usually find these helpful people in the Human Resources Department of an organization.
Where are they?
Ask yourself this question: Who needs to know about the career I’m interested in? Usually it’s people who:
- hire others to do the job
- actually do the work
- train people to do the job (talk to community college instructors
- run professional organizations (Find the Encyclopedia of Associations at the library)
From these sources create a list of contacts.
How does it work?
Use your contact list to arrange an informational interview. This is an easy way of gathering first-hand information about the skills and personal qualities needed to succeed in a job. It’s not a job interview, that’s what makes informational interviewing work so well. Tell your contact: “I’m not looking for a job today. I’m only looking for some information to help me make a career decision.” This allows them to talk openly about their jobs, business, and industry.
What do I say?
Once you reach the correct person, tell him you have some quick questions and ask if he has a few moments. If he says, “No,” ask for a more convenient time. If he says, “Never, we don’t have any jobs available,” state again that you aren’t looking for a job today. You’re simply looking for information to help make career decisions. Most decision makers understand the need for good information and will help.
When interviewing, use some of the outer research questions. Remember that people love to talk about their work. If you ask good questions, listen carefully and take a real interest in what people say, you’ll learn much.
If you can answer these 10 questions about any job that interests you, you’ll know whether your career choice is right.
- What is a typical workday like in the life of a __________?
- What experience, training, or skills are required to be competitive?
- Are there any special problem areas in the job? (dangerous conditions, high stress, boring repetition…..)
- What attitudes or personal qualities do employers want in those who do this job?
- Are there changes in the industry that will affect this job? (skill changes, automation, downsizing…)
- Is there a surplus, balance or shortage of people to do this job?
- What is the outlook for the industry? (Declining, growing, staying the same)
- What companies or organizations hire people to do this job?
- What are the average wages?
10.What are some related or similar jobs?
Inner research is career soul searching before and during job and career search. Start your inner research by spending some time answering these questions:
- If I could magically choose any career, what would it be? Why?
- How important is this change to me?
- What am I willing to do to make this change happen?
- How long and how hard am I willing to struggle?
- How will this change affect other important people in my life?
Answering these questions may lead to even more questions. Answer all of them. This career soul searching provides essential information for mapping out your career moves.