Informational Interviewing for Fact-finding and Networking

By: Sandi Ohman

t1larg_info_interview_tsHave you met someone and thought, “Wow, their job seems very interesting.  I wonder how they got there and what they do in their position.”  If so, then an informational interview is a good way to find out about a career path, position, or company.

Informational interviews are facilitated by the person looking for a career, and the person being interviewed is the person in that career path or specific position.  The interviewer will ask the interviewee questions about his or her job, specific education, experience level and skills needed, challenges and interesting aspects of the position, companies to consider and any other questions about this industry/career path/position.  The end of the interview is a good time to ask the professional being interviewed to review a resume for areas of strength and weakness and what should be focused on to be competitive.

Informational interviewing is also an excellent networking tool.  Professionals are not usually as open to forwarding a resume on to a recruiter or hiring manager unless they have some knowledge of the person.  By beginning a networking relationship with industry professionals through informational interviews, they get to know the person’s interest and skills a little better and feel more comfortable recommending, to HR or a hiring manager, a resume for a position in their company.

Questions to get started:

How should you request an informational interview?  Reaching out to the person directly or being introduced by a mutual third party are two good ways.

If you don’t know someone in the industry, how can you find someone to interview?  Consider reaching out through groups in LinkedIn, such as ERAU Career Services group, ERAU Alumni group, or other professional groups in which you are a member.  Visit eaglesNEST to connect with an industry representative or identify a position you are interested in pursuing.  If you are a Daytona Beach or Prescott student or recent graduate, you can work with your Career Services program manager to see if she has any connections related to your industry/career path.  Finally, don’t overlook professors or administrators at your campus.  They are excellent people to start building your professional network with, to interview if they have worked in the industry and to see if they have recommendations for people with which to conduct informational interviews (and contacts too).

For more information on this topic, visit the Career Services Office website for Informational Interviewing.

Sandi Ohman is the Senior Program Manager in the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  She has been with the university for over 9 years and has advised students in most all degree areas while in Career Services.  Sandi brings additional experience having worked in the finance industry for over 6 years in her previous career.  She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida, and her Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Central Florida.

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