During the past few weeks, I’ve met with many students and recent grads for informational interviews. Some of them have blown me away with professionalism and obvious preparedness; others haven’t quite been up to par.
Below are a few tips on the do’s and don’ts of informational interviews.
1. Do Research the Company Before
Read the company’s blog, check out the online newsroom, understand industry trends and have an understanding about what the company is all about. This will allow you to learn more than the basics from the professional.
2. Don’t Forget to Prepare Questions
Unlike a traditional interview, you should be the one running the show. If you’re expecting the professional to be the one asking all the questions, you might create an awkward and inefficient informational interview.
3. Do Respect the Time of the Professional
It’s best to have a short and sweet list of five to seven questions asking about different topics so you don’t take up too much time or make the interview seem unproductive.
4. Do Set Up the Interview at Least One Week in Advance
Try to get some time on the professional’s calendar a week before (or even earlier). If the meeting has to be canceled or rescheduled, be flexible and offer to schedule a call if that’s easier.
5. Do Meet With Professionals Regardless of Your Age
It’s important to take advantage of these opportunities from the time you’re interested in a public relations career through your senior year. Meet with professionals in a variety of industries and organizational settings to gain a full understanding of the profession.
6. Don’t Bring your Resume
Unless you’re looking for feedback on content or design, informational interviews are meant to be informal and low pressure for both parties.
7. Do Follow Up With a Handwritten Note
Whether the interview lasted for five minutes or 30 minutes, a handwritten note will show genuine gratitude, and it’s a great way for that professional to remember you.
8. Don’t Expect a Job Offer the Next Day
Instead, keep in touch with the professional you met with and let them know you’re looking for jobs. If there are no openings at that professional’s organization, you might be connected with other agencies and companies.
What advice do you have for informational interviews? Do you have any informational interview success stories to share?
This is a guest post from PRSSA Immediate Past President Nick Lucido. He is an account executive with Edelman Digital in Chicago and is open to meeting with PRSSA members for informational interviews — especially if they have read this post.