Imagine having a cup of coffee with your career idol and picking their brain about how they became so successful. Sounds like a dream, right? It doesn’t have to be! Requesting an informational interview from someone you admire is more common than you think. Informational interviews can be an invaluable source of knowledge. If there are no job openings at a company you want to work for, request an informational interview from a member of their staff that you admire or whose job you are interested in. Ask to meet for coffee or lunch to pick their brain about their career; your treat of course! Whatever you do, do not ask for a job during this meeting. This meeting is only about advice and inspiration. If it happens to lead to a job interview that is a lucky bonus! Follow our steps for the perfect informational interview to receive awesome career advice in no time.
Obtain the Interview
First things first, you need to actually book the meeting. Start by sending an email to the person you would like to connect with. Explain to them that you want to learn more about them and their career journey and make it clear this is not a request for a job interview. If you do not hear back after a week, follow up politely. If you do not hear back after the second request try again in a few months, you might be catching them at a very busy time and do not want to pester them.
They Said Yes, Now What?
If they said yes, way to go! Offer to meet them wherever and whenever is most convenient for them. Before your interview, prepare a written set of questions to ensure the interview goes smoothly. You are likely going to be nervous and do not want to waste their precious time while you try to remember what you wanted to ask them. If you are meeting in a coffee shop or restaurant, show up early and reserve a good quiet spot.
Now that you have soaked up all of your idol’s wisdom, it is time to thank them! Follow up with a thank you email that same day and then get a handwritten thank you note in the mail A.S.A.P. If your budget allows, send flowers or treats to share at the office.
Keep in Touch
Congratulations! You just received some stellar career insight and made a fantastic new connection. In order to keep that relationship strong, connect with them on LinkedIn if possible and check in with them a few times a year via email. It may feel awkward to contact them out of the blue, so keep an eye on their work achievements throughout the year. Congratulating them on an impressive ad campaign or the launch of a new product is a perfect excuse to reach out!
Just to help you out, we have rounded up a few questions to ask during an informational interview. Tell us what you would want to ask your career idol!
- What does your job entail on a daily basis?
- What was the best preparation for your job?
- What skills do you wish you had before embarking on your career?
- What advice would you give a younger version of yourself?