In the age of social networks are information interviews still viable tools as part of a job search strategy? Can they be applied successfully as a “3 degrees of separation request” in Linkedin.com? Making connections and creating conversations has not become easier because of social networks. People may be even more unwilling to take the time and energy to speak with you unless they are given some compelling reason to do so.
Consider the following when leveraging information interviews to get career doors opened:
- Start with an information interview with people “connected” to your target sector who would never hire you. For example, talking to a financial analyst or university department chair that specializes in the sector would be a sincere seeking of information to prepare you for the “opportunity discussion” with a potential employer.
- It is more genuine to treat a meeting with a contact or company representative as an “opportunity discussion” rather than an information interview. Since it is an informal way for a company to assess your capabilities and organizational fit without formalizing the process into an actual interview then acknowledge it as such.
- Any time you gain access to someone in a company who has the power or the influence on a hiring decision and you have the right qualifications to work there, then it is never just an information interview and you will always be scrutinized as a potential candidate regardless of context, venue or situation.
- The context and intent of the information interview conversation can easily blur into a partial or full blown interview that you should verbally acknowledge because a new set of ground rules and intentions for the conversation has been set in motion. They ask the questions now, not you.
- For a job interview, it is a given to be well-prepared with in-depth research on the company’s products and services. The same holds true for an information interview. The preparation is the same.
- With that research, you start a discussion of the company’s products, financial position, customer base, technological developments and challenges, not to gather information, but to reveal what you already know about them.
- When your questions go into greater depth to identify their current needs, always be prepared to directly present your value proposition and how you can make a contribution to their organization.
- Ten years ago, a request for your resume to review in advance of the information interview was typical. This was also a flag that the information interview could be escalated into an job interview. Social media profiles have made that resume ask into non sequitur. You are flying blind unless you track who views your profile on Linkedin.
Requests for information interviews succeed when the initial introduction is through a known connector, and the request is of value to the person asked. They are most effective when you over prepare, keep your expectations low, and approach the conversation with gratitude.