Information Interviewing

If you are working toward a career “adjustment,” you will need to get information straight from the people who are doing the work you are considering. How? By conducting Information Interviews.

The Information Interview allows you to try on a job for size. If you conduct the interview on site, you can “see” and “feel” the business culture of the company. You can see the pace of work, and hear whether the position is stressful or not. You can even imagine yourself in that role.:

The incumbent employee has nothing to gain or lose, so he is likely to be very frank with you. Forbidden subjects such as salary, prospects for promotions, corporate politics, etc. can be discussed openly. You can ask: “What would a new person in this job expect to make?” “How about after two years experience?”:

You can set up Information Interviews with people you meet casually at social events. Sometimes friends and family will help you connect with someone where they work. Here’s how you ask: “I am considering a career change and I wondered if we could have a one-hour meeting and talk about your work.” If you know the person say: “I’ve always admired you as a professional. Would you be able to take an hour of time to tell me about your career?” People are so flattered they seldom turn you down.

Do’s and Don’ts: Do buy the lunch or the drink–this is a favor. Do ask about job openings and who the interviewer would be. Don’t overstay your welcome. End the meeting after one hour. Do thank the person by mail and email. In your email thank you note, attach a resume and the message: “If you hear of any openings that might be a fit for me, I would appreciate a call.”

To request Catherine Jewell’s Information Interviewing Guide, send an email to cj@catherinejewell.com. You’ll get instructions on setting up an interview, plus 21 questions you can use.

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