From Stress to Success in the City: Never Underestimate the Benefits of an Informational Interview

Informational interviews are one of the most important elements to starting on the path towards career success. When moving to Washington, D.C., a friend gave me this advice:

“Meeting with other professionals is crucial for growth because you have everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose.”

Informational interviews are key to unlocking your potential professional success.

Informational Interview

Setting up a meeting with someone takes opening up, being proactive, and attending social events. Social gatherings can be informal such as happy hours, intramural sports teams, or volunteer opportunities. They can also be formal such as company briefings and receptions.

Another way you can extend your meeting potential is through blind (informational) dates. Have a friend, co-worker, or someone in your alumni network set you up for coffee with someone they know in your career field. A friend would not set you up with another friend if the meeting wouldn’t go well.

Haley’s 3 Benefits of Informational Interviews

  1. Exposes You To Job Opportunities: Setting up an informational interview can link you to current and future job openings. Often before a job is posted formally to a website, employees put their own personal feelers out for potential people to hire. If you connect with professionals and build working relationships with them, YOU are who they will think of for the vacant position.
  2. Builds Your Web of Contacts:  Meeting with other professionals, even just for 20 minutes, help you build a network of people that know you and your interests. You won’t be best friends but try to develop the relationship and build trust. If someone that you met through an interview refers you for a vacant position, the employers are more likely to interview you than a random resume submitted online. Employers can put a face to the credentials which gives you an advantage.
  3. Maturing Professional Social Skills: The more you meet with professionals, the more comfortable and confident you will become. Talking with people higher up the food chain can be intimidating. But just like anything else, practice makes perfect.

Make sure to come to events prepared with business cards and questions. Talking to professionals without preparing beforehand can potentially make you look sloppy and careless.

Informational interviews are a great way to leverage your personality and social skills. If you aren't setting up meetings, someone else is. Go into meetings confidently and know that showing other professionals your credentials that extend beyond your resume will put you on the career climbing track.

HaleyFulford-TheWiseLatinaClubA food enthusiast and native Georgia Peach, Haley recently graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelors of Science in Sustainable Development. Currently working at the United States House of Representatives, she is passionate about the outdoors, improved access to quality education for all, public policy, and documenting “from stress to success in the city.” Click here to read more about and connect with Haley.

Edited by Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

Have you asked for or given  an informational interview?