Whether you’re a student, or you’re out of college and employed full-time, I suspect your life is very busy. This seems to be the way it is for most of us these days.
If this is your situation, there need to be some compelling reasons for you to add informational interviewing to your “To Do” list. My goal with this post is to give you those reasons.
The BIG 5 Benefits of Informational Interviewing
After years and years of positive personal experiences with informational interviews, the following are what I believe to be the five most valuable benefits you’ll receive by adding this soft skill to your personal and career development toolbox.
Benefit #1 – Learn one-on-one from experts.
Informational interviews let you ratchet up your learning by moving beyond what Google can find on the Internet or what you can read in a book.
Direct conversations with other human beings let you tap the wealth of knowledge, experiences and stories that are inside of their heads.
Benefit #2 – Explore careers, companies, and jobs before making the plunge!
Learning information that’s related to careers is where informational interviewing really shines, and where it’s used most often. It’s a great process for helping anyone to better understand careers, companies, and jobs they’re considering, before they actually choose them.
I suspect we can agree that it would be a shame for students to invest their time and money towards college degrees, only to find themselves miserable while working in their fields of study after graduation. Unfortunately, I believe this happens to thousands of young people every year.
This also happens to poorly informed full-time employees who make job changes without doing much research beforehand. I saw this time after time while working with early and mid-career engineering candidates in my recruiting business, and as a corporate recruiter at John Deere.
I must admit, I’ve also been guilty in the past of not doing adequate due diligence before moving to a new position. My own personal experiences are another reason I’m such a believer in informational interviewing and the benefits it offers.
Benefit #3 – Add to your network of supportive relationships.
Informational interviews are excellent catalysts for the development of new relationships.
In my opinion, this may be the most important benefit of the five, because relationships are what fuel friendships, careers, companies, communities, families, and much more.
This quote from author Margaret Wheatley speaks directly to the importance of relationships in our lives:
Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone.
Benefit #4 – It truly is about giving, and not just about getting.
Something I often hear from students when I talk about the idea of informational interviewing are concerns from them such as, “No one will want to talk with me.”, or, “I don’t have anything I can share with them.”, or, “Why would they want to take time to let me interview them?”
What I really think students, and others, who say these things are feeling is the fear of being rejected, of being told “no” when they invite someone for an interview. These feelings are common and they’re normal. As human beings, we don’t want to be rejected. When we’re rejected, our emotional defense mechanisms often have us take it personally, and that doesn’t feel good.
When fear shows up, you have to simply push it aside and forge ahead. Most of the people you reach out to are going to be flattered by your invitation. They’ll want to help you, and they’ll enjoy the opportunity to talk about themselves, share their stories and experiences, and offer their advice to you.
It’s also important to realize that you may be able to help the person you’re interviewing. I encourage interviewers to always consider asking the question, “How can I help you?”, sometime before the conversation ends.
Benefit #5 – Build invaluable conversational and relationship-building skills
Benefits #1 through #4 should provide plenty of incentive for anyone to get started conducting informational interviews, but this final benefit should seal the deal for sure.
This benefit is all about the building and development of soft skills that you need in all areas of your life, both at home and in the workplace.
Here’s what I mean. While working through the process steps of an informational interview, you will:
- Hone your writing skills by writing professional invitation emails or letters
- Use your organizational and time management skills to schedule and complete the interview
- Learn how to prepare effectively for a face-to-face interview-style conversation
- Improve your speaking, questioning, and listening skills by conducting the interview
- Demonstrate your professionalism by following up with a thank you and by properly managing the ongoing relationship
Are You Ready To Extend Your First Interview Invitation?
So what do you say? Are you convinced that informational interviewing should be in your career development and life skills toolbox?
If you’d like some help now to get started, be sure to check out my (FREE) STRAIGHT TALK GUIDE on this topic in the Learning Store.
If desired, you can view this entire post in the video below:
Question: What benefits have you found with informational interviewing? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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CONDUCTING INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS