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How do you go through with an informational interview?

I have seen advice on Linkedin that in order to land a job, we need to network with people from our desired company by doing an informational interview. What kinds of questions do I need to ask during it?

#interviews #interview-preparation #interview-questions


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Dexter’s Answer

Hey Anna,

I think the questions will vary depending on what is most important to you, and I'm sure you can google for some questions that most people would find important.

But yeah, if you could find someone in your friend network I think that'll be the best, but if you can find anyone that'll spend a 20 minutes on the phone with you, I think informational interviews are very important in choosing a company you want to work for.

For me, if I were to do this informational interview, here's what I would want to ask someone from that company:
1. What are the stated company values, and does the company live up to it?
2. In the end, if the employee does their best, what change are they contributing to?
3. Do you happen to know the hiring manager for the position I'm interested in? If so, do you happen to know what they think leadership means?

I would ask the first question, as there are companies that like to yell from the tops of mountains that they value X, Y, and Z, but very few, IMHO, actually live up to those values that they talk about. I would want to work for a company that tells me what they're about then lives up to it. If they don't, how can I trust them when they tell me that I'm going to be working on X? Maybe they'll renege on that too.

The second question is important to me, because I wouldn't want to work for a company that harms the environment or society. For example, in my opinion (so please do you own research and don't just take me at my word), anyone working at Facebook, Nestle, BP, Monsanto, Shell, etc are actively harming our environment/society by doing their best. Because of the goals and track record of these companies, I personally couldn't work for them.

This last question is difficult, because unless the company is small, it's not probable that they'll know the hiring manager, but in the chance they do, I'd want to know who I'll be working for. It is my opinion that the biggest factor to job satisfaction is based on the manager, so it's just important to know what you're walking into.

For a lot of other people, they might want to ask about bonuses, work-life balance, how well they compensate against their peers, perks, etc.

Anyways, I wish you the best of luck!

--
Dexter

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Ro’s Answer

Informational Interviews are not traditional "interviews". It's more of networking and getting to know the person or industry. It's an important and useful tool to utilize when you want to know more about a job or field from someone that is further advanced in their career than yourself. In my opinion, the most important part of informational interviewing is WHO you choose to speak with.

For ex: Let's say you want to learn about a particular position in an industry (let's use Coding for example). You're not going to be able to meet and speak with B. Gates, but you could research and reach out to a recruiter or someone with a few years experience as a Coder in a company you're interested in.

1) Reach out to them and ask them if they could possibly take time out of their busy schedules to answer a few questions you had about the position or industry. DO NOT ASK THEM FOR A JOB. This is a fact-finding mission, not a job search.
2) Prepare a few insightful questions (ex: What led you to working at company A? What advice to you have for someone that wants to gain this kind of position? Are there any certificates or training that would benefit this position? etc.)
3) If meeting in person, dress like it's an interview. Prepare to adjust to their time.
4) Thank them for their time after you're done, ask for their card or contact info., and send them a thank you email.

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Abby’s Answer

Hi Anna! This is a great question, and it's awesome that you're thinking of doing these interviews. I would think of these interviews as both you trying to get to know the company/person and also trying to build a relationship with that person. That way, even if you don't end up at this company, you've still built a strong connection. To prepare for these interviews, I'd prepare questions related to a couple different areas: this person's experience/major responsibilities and the company's culture/where it's going.

A good way to get into the conversation is just asking how this person got into the industry/their position and how this company gives them different opportunities for growth. It's also interesting to ask about what challenges they face as well as different projects/responsibilities they have.

As for the company specifically, it's good to learn about their team structure, plans for the future, and other details that you may be interested in, such as if they do pro bono work or their diversity initiatives. Do research before the call and mention specific things you noticed--that'll help you stand out and make the conversation more productive.

Also, don't forget that they're getting to know you too, so I'd prepare to answer why you're interested in the company and what your story is. The person you're interviewing may help you get in touch with others at the company too. Good luck!

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Rita’s Answer

Anna, informal interviews are a great way to show a company you are interested in them. I would first recommend you do your "homework" and go to the company's internet page and learn more about the company you are interested in. It would be a waste of time to ask any questions you could find on their company website which saves more time for questions you really want answers to. Below are a few questions you might be interested to ask. But you should be asking questions that matter to you first and foremost.

Rita recommends the following next steps:

What is your company's policy for working from home? How often do you need to be in the office? (ex. 3-5 days a week)
What is your company's 3-5 year plan?
What are the career paths options available to new employees?
What are the salary ranges for the position you are interested in?
Do they have relocation costs if you need to relocate?

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Rita’s Answer

Anna, informal interviews are a great way to show a company you are interested in them. I would first recommend you do your "homework" and go to the company's internet page and learn more about the company you are interested in. It would be a waste of time to ask any questions you could find on their company website which saves more time for questions you really want answers to. Below are a few questions you might be interested to ask. But you should be asking questions that matter to you first and foremost.

Rita recommends the following next steps:

What is your company's policy for working from home? How often do you need to be in the office? (ex. 3-5 days a week)
What is your company's 3-5 year plan?
What are the career paths options available to new employees?
What are the salary ranges for the position you are interested in?
Do they have relocation costs if you need to relocate?

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elisabeth’s Answer

HI Ana! I agree with everyone's points above. The purpose of an informational interview is really just to give you the opportunity to ask questions, learn about the company, the position, the interviewee's experience. On the other hand, I recommend coming prepared with questions that require more than just a "yes" or "no" to reply to. From my experience I have picked 1-2 questions per area of interest I am curious about. For example, 2 about the position, 2 about the company work environment, etc. While no question is a stupid question, be prepared and make sure that your questions are things that cannot be easily googled and really do come from pure curiosity!

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