<img src="https://certify.alexametrics.com/atrk.gif?account=mZnsn1QolK1052" style="display:none" height="1" width="1" alt="">

The Informational Interview...It’s Not About You

Depositphotos_49959969_xsRead any career management book or article offering advice on conducting a proactive job search and you will find information regarding the importance of scheduling informational interviews or business information meetings. So what is the purpose of an informational interview and how does it differ from the traditional interview?

  • The purpose of the informational interview or business information meeting is to build a connection/relationship with a hiring manager, recruiter or key business leader who can offer advice or information about a target company, industry, or career path.
  • The purpose is not to ask for a job or inquire about openings within the contact’s company or companies with which the individual is connected (although it is subtly understood).
  • The purpose is not to ask for a referral or introduction to the hiring manager unless the individual offers.
  • And most importantly, the meeting is not just about you and your career search.
  • Keep in mind, the purpose for the meeting is foremost to expand your network and make a professional connection that may provide important advice and be of future assistance. The connection may be willing to introduce you to additional contacts, may be willing to share company information and career intelligence, and may be willing to provide advice. The outcome is based on how you present yourself, build the relationship and facilitate the meeting.

Listed below are 10 practical tips for conducting effective informational interviews/business information meetings:

  1. Communicate in advance the reason/purpose for the meeting to allow the contact to prepare and make the best use of his/her time.
  2. Be cognizant of the individual’s time; request no more than 30 minutes of their precious time.
  3. Offer to meet the person at their office or a location convenient for them, not you. Express how much you appreciate their time and input.
  4. Make yourself likeable; let your personality and passions shine but don’t monopolize the conversation.
  5. Spend most of the time listening; ask about the individual’s career path, the company, the industry, and their achievements.
  6. Ask intelligence questions to demonstrate you have researched their company, the industry and are current on industry trends.
  7. Don’t pull out your resume and ask for feedback early in the conversation. This will put a new contact on the defense and demonstrate it’s “all about you.” Wait until you have established the relationship; if appropriate, ask if they are willing to review your resume if forwarded to them.
  8. Never say anything negative about a previous company, boss, co-workers or position.
  9. Ask if you can stay in touch, connect through LinkedIn, and keep them updated on your career search.
  10. Follow Up. Send a thank you and include an article, blog, or piece of information that they may find of interest.


Paula Pope is a Senior Consultant with The Frontier Group. Her practice specialties are career coaching, outplacement and executive development.