Part of my way of assisting other business professionals is to offer connections that are beneficial. Having recently learned about a company that was recruiting, I reached out to my contact to learn more about the position and to suggest that a former client may be a viable candidate. My next step was calling my client to assess level of interest; the rest is up to the two of them.
I did make mention of the fact that I learned the first step was an informational interview. As I explained to my client—make no mistake, this is still an interview and requires appropriate preparation. (It’s easy to assume it’s simply a casual conversation.)
My recommendation for anyone participating in an informational interview is:
1. Google the person or people with whom you’ll be meeting so you have a sense of who they are and what you may have in common. (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)
2. Research the company’s website, paying particular attention to new projects and any press releases or media updates.
3. Develop a list of 4-5 key questions you can pose to learn more about the company culture, the company vision and the job. Strive to make these open-ended vs. close-ended questions, which will yield more information.
4. Align your attributes/skills with what you learn in your research so that you begin to actualize yourself in the role and the value you can provide.
5. Have your business card and your resume updated and ready to offer.
6. Dress for success; present yourself in a professional light from head to toe.
7. Monitor your nonverbal language including your posture and eye-contact.
8. Silence or turn off your cell phone during your interview.
9. Obtain the business card(s) of those interviewing you and ensure you send a thank you note (vs. an email). This follow-up is a vital part of networking.
10. Arrive 5 minutes early.
Every interview (including informational) is public speaking so you want to sound your best!