How to get the most out of an informational interview?
March 26, 2006 1:49 PM   Subscribe

I have an information interview at a large company I'd like to work for. Some background: The interview was set up by a former colleague's friend and the person I am speaking with does not work in the department I'd like to work in. What is the best I can hope to get out of such a situation and how would you go about achieving it?
posted by captainscared to Work & Money (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Go in with the idea that you're thinking about taking a job in the company. Find out from the person you're speaking with what it's like to work in the company. What's the culture like. Do they enjoy their work. Do they like their boss. Do they know the person you'd ultimtely be working for. If they do know the person, what are they like and would it be possible for them to introduce you. If they don't know the person, do they know anybody who would.

Basically 1. Find out about the company and 2. Find some other person that this person knows that they could introduce you to so that you can get another informational interview. Repeat until you get in front of the person you need to be infront of.
posted by willnot at 2:09 PM on March 26, 2006

IMHO, informational interviews are a waste of time. They're based on a premise that everyone knows is false --- that you're there to get information about the company.

Really, you're there to meet people who might be able to help you get your foot in the door, and everybody knows this, but the necessity of pretending you're gathering information about the company puts you in an awkward position.
posted by jayder at 2:29 PM on March 26, 2006

I'm sorry, I just realized I did not answer your question in my rush to offer my opinion. Sounds like you may be able to get some genuine insight into the department you would like to work for, perhaps more unguarded than an opinion offered by someone in the actual department in which you seek to work. Try to find out the perception of your interviewer concerning the department: quality of life there, who are the influential people it's important to know, what kinds of people they are seeking in the department, what skills are sought.
posted by jayder at 2:35 PM on March 26, 2006

I would say, in the same vein as jayder suggested, try to meet/talk to/impress as any people in the place as possible. Perhaps offer to buy your interviewer lunch in the cafeteria, if ther is one, to maximize "Hey, Steve, meet this guy who wants to work in your department" type situations. Maybe hint that you'd love a tour, particularly of the department in question, so you can look over someone's shoulder and give a little "Oh, that looks like something I was working at my previous job/in college. Here's what we did..." It's all about making a good impression and networking.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:17 PM on March 26, 2006

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