I’ve written extensively on this blog about informational interviews (see here and here for example). I remain enthusiastic about their potential for learning more about a person’s position, career, organization, and industry. Even with the wealth of information available through sites like Glassdoor, there’s no substitute for direct contact with someone in a profession that intrigues you.
I’m always flattered when someone reaches out to set up an informational interview. The subject might be working in public relations, higher education, or the social impact sector, among others based on a review of my professional background. Regardless, I benefit as much, if not more, than the individual who makes the request. There are 9 reasons why, as informational interviews enable me to:
- Help someone break into an occupation or transition to another industry.
- Take a break from my internal thought processes by turning my focus outward to be of service to someone else.
- Share my experiences with someone who wants to hear about them.
- Practice telling my professional story, or more specifically variations of my story highlighting one or more themes.
- Meet a new person or connect at a deeper level with someone I already know.
- Ask someone questions about their work. My curiosity helps me to learn about different career paths and industries. I share this insight with others.
- Draw on my knowledge and creativity to offer what I hope is specific, useful guidance.
- Use my extensive network to connect the person in front of me with individuals and organizations I know.
- Return the favor many others have done for me when granting informational interviews.
A professional acquaintance, whom I’ve know for over 20 years, recently stated, “Of course, I always meet with people who reach out because they believe I might be able to help them. You never know what you’re going to learn in the process.” In short, I can imagine few better ways to help others and to grow as a professional by granting informational interviews.