As I said in my previous blog – How to Prepare for Successful Informational Interviews a significant challenge for anyone seeking a new career is not knowing the options. Investigating career possibilities in midcareer often feels both urgent and riskier than in the early years when you were getting started. One way to explore the opportunities available to you is to use informational interviews.

Remember, informational interviewing is speaking to those people who know about the field you’re considering. Your goal is to ask the questions that matter to you. Keep in mind that this isn’t a job interview where you are trying to fit in, but rather an opportunity to learn what you want to know.

Well Prepared for Your Informational Interview?

Armed with a clear understanding of your ideal job, a short elevator speech, and compelling stories to highlight your achievements, you are ready to start the process. The important thing is to prepare well and get ready to move on to active interviewing. Here are the steps I recommend that lead to fruitful informational interviews:

Steps to a Successful Informational Interview

  • Make a list of your networks to identify people who are more familiar with the field than you are.
  • Pick 3-5 people that you know reasonably well to get started. Familiar contacts will help you get comfortable with the informational interview process.
  • Send the first person on your list an email that says that you are considering a career move. Ask for twenty minutes of their time to get their ideas. Be sure to include your elevator speech, so they understand your interest.
  • Be sure to highlight in the email that you are not asking for a job, just advice. You might say something like “I am attaching a few career highlights to give you a sense of my background and experience.” Then attach your stories headed by your elevator speech.
  • Indicate that you will call them within the next several days to schedule the interview and be sure to follow up.
  • Conduct the interview, and as it is winding down, ask, “who do you suggest that I see next?” Make sure you have permission to make the connection. Send an email to the contact asking for an informational interview. Start with “I am writing to you at the suggestion of … because (your elevator speech).”
  • Repeat the process until you zero in on organizations that get consistently rave reviews and then try to find out as much as you can about the people in charge. Meet with as many of the recommended leaders as you can. My clients frequently report that they receive job offers based on their informational interviews.

“Is there any way that we could get you to join us?”

Because you are well prepared – you know the characteristics of your ideal job – you can probe to discover if an offer would be a good fit. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will move gracefully into an assignment that looks ideal.

Peter Sherer is a nationally recognized career coach who offers clarity and confidence to mid-career and senior executives in transition. In just two short days, his rigorous assessment tools enable his clients to identify a meaningful assignment that uses all of their skills and experience. Learn more and get in touch with Peter today.