Networking is one of the most important parts of professional growth, and informational interviews are one of the best ways to do it. For HBCU students and recent graduates in particular, these interviews can be a treasure trove of information about the industry, chances to build relationships, and career advice.
What is an informational interview, though? Simply put, it’s a conversation in which you, the aspirant, learn from the knowledge and experience of a professional in the field you want to work in. The goal isn’t to get a job right away, but to learn more about the industry, role, or company, which could lead to future opportunities.
Setting Up an Informational Interview
Before diving into our informational interview example, it’s vital to understand how to initiate one:
- Research and Identify: Start by identifying professionals in your desired field. They could be HBCU alumni or individuals who’ve excelled in positions you aim for.
- Craft Your Approach: Send an informational interviewing approach letter or email expressing your interest in learning from them. Ensure it’s concise, genuine, and articulate.
- Stay Professional: Remember to maintain a professional demeanor throughout. While it’s not a job interview, the impression you leave matters.
Requesting an Informational Interview
When it comes to requesting an interview, many students feel a bit nervous. It’s completely normal, but remember—you’re not asking for a job, just for some insights. Reach out to professionals via email or LinkedIn, introducing yourself and your academic background. Be honest about your intentions; let them know you admire their work and would love to learn more about their career path and industry insights. Most professionals are flattered and willing to share their expertise, so don’t hesitate. Just make sure your request is polite, concise, and respectful of their time.
Diving Deeper: Questions to Make Your Informational Interview Shine
It’s one thing to set up an informational interview and another to conduct it effectively. Asking the right questions is paramount. Let’s explore an informational interview example in depth, breaking down potential questions you can pose to gather valuable insights. Here are sample informational interview questions.
1. Personal Aspects of the Career
Connecting on a personal level can give you an inside look at the professional journey and satisfaction associated with the role.
- What piqued your interest in this profession?
- Can you share some of the most rewarding moments of your job?
- What challenges do you face regularly, and did your education prepare you for these?
- Can you describe your career trajectory from post-college to now?
- Could you delve into a few projects you recently spearheaded or were a part of?
- What’s a surprising fact about your day-to-day tasks that others might not know?
- Which past experiences have significantly influenced your current position?
- How would you describe the dynamics of your workplace and its culture?
- Any words of wisdom you wish you’d received before diving into this career?
- For a novice in this industry, what golden nuggets of advice would you offer?
- How does your profession align with your personal life goals and work-life balance?
- Looking back, are there any decisions or steps you’d reconsider?
2. Questions About the Occupation
In this informational interview example, the goal is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the role and its requirements.
- Could you outline a typical day for you?
- What’s the recommended academic and training background for someone eyeing your role?
- Is there a particular certification that stands out in this field?
- Which skills and personal qualities do you find most crucial for success?
- How can students garner relevant experience that is attractive to employers in your domain?
- As a student, how can one stand out? Any specific courses or extracurriculars?
- Could you paint a picture of the ideal candidate for this profession?
- Are there any other prerequisites to entering this job domain?
- What’s the usual designation for a newbie in your field?
- How does one climb the ladder in this profession? Is a higher degree beneficial?
- Can you shed light on the varied work environments for someone in your role?
- Any parallel professions or roles that come to mind?
3. Prospects of the Career
Grasp the future outlook and trends of the profession in this informational interview example:
- Could you offer guidance on how to secure a position in this realm?
- How’s the current job landscape in our locality and beyond?
- What are the emerging trends you foresee?
- Given these trends, how should one prepare to stay relevant?
- What potential hurdles should newcomers anticipate?
4. Consider Sprinkling in These Additional Questions
Spruce up the conversation with these overarching informational interview example queries:
- Are there any questions I might have missed but should consider?
- Would it be okay for us to keep the conversation going in the future?
- Would you be open to providing feedback on my resume?
- Can you suggest others who might offer valuable insights aligned with my aspirations?
5. Reflecting Post-Interview
After the discussion, it’s crucial to introspect. Ask yourself:
- What facets of the job resonate with you?
- Which elements might not align with your preferences?
- How do you feel about occupational stressors and demands?
- Are you comfortable with the autonomy or structure of the role?
- Can you see yourself acquiring the necessary skills and traits?
- How does the job’s responsibilities match your strengths and areas for growth?
- Are you willing to undergo the requisite training or education?
After the informational interview, remember to send a thank-you note, expressing gratitude for their time and insights. This gesture can leave a lasting positive impression.
For HBCU students and graduates, the journey ahead is filled with opportunities for your careers. You can create a clearer path for yourself in the professional world with the help of tools like informational interviews, knowledge, and valuable connections. Remember, every conversation is a step closer to your dream career. Stay curious, stay proactive!