One of the tools often unused in the job search is the preemployment “Informational interview”. The informational interview can be used to find out about a position that might not be available or might be beyond your current abilities.
A key assignment I’ve assigned in the past is for students to complete an informational interview with someone they may want to work for or work with. They are asked to contact a company, stating that they are a college student seeking information on a position they are interested in studying. They then schedule 15 minutes in person or on the phone talking to this person about the company, their role, their career, and any other questions the student feels will help them get a better grasp of what the company does and stands for.
Although a couple people haven’t taken this assignment too seriously over the years (and tend to be the ones who probably look at this as something too out of the box), those who have have ended up meeting people they may end up working for eventually.
The key to the informational interview is to make it just that – informational. This is not a time to parlay yourself into a job, but certainly to get more information about it. You can be yourself more often in this setting.
Some good questions to ask someone in an informational interview would be
How long have you worked in your position, and how did you get here?
What do you find are the most rewarding and most challenging parts of your position?
I’ve done some research on your company, but I’d like to know an insider’s view on where you see this company going in the next 5 years.
Questions like this and others help you find out if this is the right place for you, and also help you prepare for actual interviews in the future.