5 elements of a successful information interview
As you prepare to leave the military, you may have heard – during your bridging classes or through your network – how important briefing talks are to a successful reintegration into civilian life and work.
Today, as the job market offers many opportunities for employed people to compete for advanced positions and job seekers find more positions available, informational interviews can be a valuable resource for you to decide. ‘assess, consider and compete for your next job.
What is an information interview?
An information interview gives you insight, information, connection and validation on your ideas or choices. Information interviews are not job interviews. They can lead to a job consideration, but the intention behind the interview is not to get a job from the person you meet.
An informational interview is a structured conversation to help you learn, grow, and see opportunities and obstacles. People will be willing to do these interviews with you if you approach it correctly, manage time well, and show that you value their time.
How to pass an information interview
You will take an informational interview to learn more about a position (or type of job), company or industry. You will choose the people to interview, based on their first-hand knowledge of those jobs, businesses or industries.
A successful information interview has five key elements:
1. You contact (online or in person) the person with a clear request that describes
what you are looking for feedback on (job, company or industry) and how they can specifically help you.
For example, you could say, “I see you have a background in supply chain logistics and are now working for XYZ Company. As I consider the opportunities after leaving the military, would you be willing to spend 15 minutes on the phone with me telling me more about your job and why you chose XYZ Company? “
2. You establish a contract of reasonable duration. In the example above, you are asking for 15 minutes, which is reasonable. Asking for 1 to 2 hours is extreme and challenges most people’s tolerance and work schedules. Asking for five minutes makes it sound like you might be trying to sell them something, rather than asking them for advice. 3. During the interview, you manage the conversation to allow the discussion to end in 15 minutes. The other person can extend the deadline – which is their prerogative – but you can’t extend it without asking. It shows respect.
4. You come to the meeting prepared. Be on time for the conversation and have your questions written in advance. This will allow you to stay focused and keep the conversation focused on what you need most in order to make a good career decision.
Express your gratitude for their time. Say ‘thank you’ at the end of the meeting and follow up with a handwritten note or personalized email thanking them and asking if you can stay in touch throughout the career process.
5. Keep in touch. Even if you didn’t apply for a job, you hopefully made a positive impression. This may cause the interviewee to want to discuss a vacant position with you or refer you to an opportunity they are aware of. Even if that doesn’t happen during this meeting, keeping in touch can lead to valuable opportunities in the future.
Let the other person know where you are getting a job, contact them if they can provide you with more advice or information, and thank them (again) if the information or point of view they have. offered during your initial interview are useful later. It is good networking practice.
Informational interviews don’t have to stop once you’ve gathered all the information you need to make a solid career choice. You can continue doing these interviews later to learn how to advance your career, overcome challenges, or even access new markets or opportunities.
The author of “Success After Service: How to Take Control of Your Job Search and Career After Military Duty” (2020) and “Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the Military-to-civilian transition” (2014), Lida Citroën is a keynote speaker and presenter, executive coach, popular TEDx speaker, and instructor of several courses on LinkedIn Learning. She regularly presents workshops on personal branding, executive presence, leadership communication and reputation risk management.
A writer for Military.com, Lida is a strong supporter of the military, volunteering her time to help veterans transition to civilian careers and help employers looking to hire military talent. She speaks regularly at conferences, company meetings and events focused on the military transition.
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