Last week, we revisited how to get the most out of an interview where I posted about helpful interview skills after my stint as a coach at New York Women in Communication’s Night of the Coaches event. Since many of the attendees were just out of college, a lot of the questions centered around informational interviews, and how to get the most out of them.
Often informational interviews are granted when a personal connection is made on behalf of the candidate. That networking might be achieved through a college career services department, a professional association or through friends and family. Sometimes the interviewer, an HR staffer or a hiring manager sees something they like on the resume and figures they should meet that person for future hiring needs. No matter what the motivation, informational interviews are a great way to make a positive first impression.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
That is a typical first question in an informational interview and you need to be ready to answer succinctly and with confidence. You may not be given a lot of time to let your personality and intelligence shine through. If you are in the beginning stages of your career, focus on a success story from your favorite internship or an accomplishment in school. If you’re a young professional already working, remember that making a memorable connection with your interviewer is your best shot of getting a call when the right position does arise.
Have some questions ready.
Informational interviews are just that – for information only and most do not turn into job interviews. Remember to have a few questions for the interviewer that will help you determine whether to stay in touch and pursue the company for an actual job. “What do you typically look for when hiring a recent college grad?” What are the entry level positions in this organization?” “What made the last junior hire a success at this company?”
And, remember to smile and begin every interview by looking the interviewer in the eye and giving them a strong handshake.