When you’re on the hunt for a job, you’re likely concentrating a good deal of your efforts on creating a perfect resume, tailoring an online portfolio, and actually applying for positions. But you might be overlooking one crucial tool that could help you quite a bit: the informational interview.
At its best, the informational interview connects you with the hiring managers, recruiters, and longtime tech professionals who can help you land a new position, especially if you’re seeking to jump industries or disciplines.
As we’ve explained before, an informational interview isn’t a job interview. Instead, it’s a conversation: You connect with someone working in your target role or company, and your goal is to gather information and insights. It's a chance to learn about their day-to-day, the company culture, as well as the skills needed for success in a particular tech
Why Informational Interviews Can Help You Land a Job
Here’s why it’s potentially important to spend the time to secure informational interviews:
- Gain insider knowledge: Get beyond job descriptions and company websites. Uncover the unadvertised perks and challenges from someone who lives it daily.
- Tailor your career path: Explore different roles and companies within the tech industry to identify the perfect fit for your skills and interests.
- Build valuable connections: Network with professionals who can become mentors, recommenders, or even future colleagues.
- Stand out from the crowd: Show genuine interest and initiative, leaving a lasting impression that can lead to job openings you might not have known about.
Securing the Informational Interview
But how do you actually land an informational interview that yields results? Fortunately, there are some easy-to-follow steps:
- Target your outreach: Identify individuals whose roles and companies align with your aspirations. Use LinkedIn, online communities, or even alumni networks to find potential contacts.
- Craft a personalized message: Briefly introduce yourself, explain your career goals, and express your genuine interest in their work. Avoid sounding generic or sales-pitchy.
- Prepare thoughtful questions: Go beyond "What does your job entail?"
- Utilize the TIARA method: Tasks, Industry trends, Advice, Requirements, and Achievements.
TIARA Question Examples
Here are some sample questions you can ask, using the TIARA framework:
- Tasks: “What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your day-to-day work?”
- Industry trends: “What emerging technologies are having the biggest impact on your field?”
- Advice: “What skills do you recommend someone aspiring to your role develop?”
- Requirements: “What skills and experiences were most valuable in landing your current position?”
- Achievements: “Can you share a specific project you're proud of and the impact it made?”
First and foremost, informational interviews are about learning. You should ask questions that will genuinely help you learn more about a company and/or tech discipline. As a side effect, though, these informational interviews can help you land a job by allowing you to build relationships and gain insights.
When a relevant opportunity arises, your name could be top-of-mind for any tech insiders, recruiters, and hiring managers you’ve spoken to during the informational interview process. So don’t underestimate the power of the informational interview: they allow you to gain invaluable knowledge, expand your network, and unlock hidden opportunities.