Research and Preparation for Informational Interviews

Updated Dec 21, 20224 min
Research and Preparation for Informational Interviews

Research and Preparation for Informational Interviews

Elise GelwicksUpdated Dec 21, 20224 min
Research and Preparation for Informational Interviews

Let’s imagine you’ve identified someone with who you’d like to do an informational interview, you reached out, they agreed to talk, and now you have a meeting on your calendar. Awesome! Now it’s time to prepare for the conversation so you can be sure you win them over.

Do Your Research

First things first- research! 🤓

The easiest way to impress someone in a networking chat is to be meaningfully prepared — more prepared than most people they talk to in a context like this. Showing you put in the work already will significantly increase the likelihood the other person feels inclined to help you. 

To prep, research your person and jot down the answers to these questions: 

  • What is their job? How does it relate to the role you’re interviewing for or interested in?

  • What is their professional background?

  • How long have they been with the company?

  • What’s been their career path?

  • Where did they go to school?

  • Do you have any mutual connections? Can you glean some intel from those mutual contacts or bring them up in conversation?

  • Do you have any similar interests or volunteer activities that you might bring up during your conversation?

You should easily find these answers by looking at the person’s LinkedIn profile, company profile, and public social media accounts. You can also Google their name and asking the person that introduced you for information. 

We promise it is flattering and appreciated to do this. It’s not creepy. It leads to better questions, richer conversations, and a higher likelihood of starting a relationship that lasts beyond the meeting.

Anything that you do find the answer to will become talking points for your conversation. Things that you can’t find the response to will become great questions to ask during the meeting.

It’s perfectly acceptable to bring your written notes and questions with you or have them in front of you on the phone or the screen. Of course, the conversation should naturally flow and feel enjoyable for the other person. But if you need to glance down at your prepared questions from time to time, that’s all good.

Prepare Your Questions

Your questions should show that you’ve done your research and should be tailored to who you’re speaking with. If you’re meeting with an executive, you will want to make sure that you’re asking higher-level questions about the industry or company you’re looking to learn about.  

A few examples of great questions include:

  • I’m excited about {Your Company Name} because {why you might be a match}. Can you tell me a bit about your experience there thus far?

  • It seems like you work on {what you think they do}. I’m not super familiar with that role. What exactly does it entail?

  • Also, I was curious if you don’t mind sharing. How did you end up joining {Company Name}?

  • Do you ever interact with people who do {my job function} at {Company Name}?

  • To the extent you know, how is it different from that role at other companies?

  • Any thoughts on what you’ve seen make people great at this? Either at your company or in the industry in general.

  • It looked like the team might be hiring. Do you know what they’re looking for?

Keep your questions short, easy to understand, and speak in a light and playful tone.

Your goal is to get the other person talking. They should do 80% of the talking in the informational interview. We all love talking about ourselves. Let people feel good! 🥰

Elise Gelwicks
Elise is a communications and emotional intelligence training consultant for companies and law firms
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