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Posted May 11, 2016 by

How to conduct a successful informational interview

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

Interviewing is hard. And stressful – especially for the recent college graduate or entry-level job seeker who has limited experience in an interview setting. To gain more experience, and to expand your professional relationships, consider conducting an informational interview. The purpose of an informational interview is to gather information and meet someone who is in a role or company you aspire to be in. It’s not a job interview – the person conducting the informational interview (you) should be the one asking the questions.

“Informational interviews are a good way to get the answers you need to make career choices,” says Bill Driscoll, the New England District President of Accountemps, a division of Robert Half, and the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. “Asking experienced professionals who have specialized expertise about their role and what it involves can give you real-world insights.”

In fact, 36 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) polled said these meetings are becoming more common, with nearly one-third (31 percent) receiving informational interview requests at least once a month. Job seekers should take note – 84 percent of executives said when someone impresses them in a meeting, it’s likely they will alert that person to job openings at the company.

Although informational interviews are not intended solely to seek a certain position in a company, it can set you up for consideration of future roles if you make a good impression. It could also lead to referrals to other contacts or job openings.

Informational interview etiquette guidelines

There are some basic etiquette guidelines to follow when requesting an informational interview, says Driscoll:

  • First, narrow down who you would ask for an informational interview. Create a list of companies you would like to work for, identify career paths that would suit your strengths and interests, and consider which industries interest you. Once you’ve identified these key factors, do some online research to choose the correct contact to interview.
  • Email is a good introductory mode of communication. Keep it simple – be concise but friendly. Briefly go over your background, state the reason you are reaching out to them, and request a meeting or phone call. Be sure to include why you want to meet that person in particular.
  • Look to your professional network to make an introduction. Seeing a message from a familiar name may increase your chance of getting a response.
  • LinkedIn can help you identify contacts and send messages. Keep in mind that people don’t necessarily log on to LinkedIn each day or check their messages on the site, so you might not get a quick response.
  • A phone call is another option to reach an informational interview candidate. Be prepared with what you’ll say in case you get a hold of the person or their voicemail.

How to prepare for an informational interview

Research the company and person you are meeting. Informational interviews tend to be short, so use the opportunity to ask the questions you genuinely want answered. Come prepared with your list of questions. Things you might want to ask are:

  • How did you get started in this industry/company/career path?
  • What is a typical day like?
  • What are the most important skills required in this role/industry?
  • How did you get your job?
  • Can you name some industry associations that I should join?
  • What do you like most about your company?

Dress professionally for your informational interview – just like you would for a job interview.

“Remember this is a business meeting and the way you dress can say a lot about you,” says Driscoll.

Go into an informational interview with a clear understanding that this is a chance to learn about a career, industry and company, to expand your professional relationships and to become better prepared for future interviews. Just don’t expect it to always lead to a job or job interview with that company.

“An informational interview is a great way to meet someone who can make hiring decisions, but don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t lead to a job interview,” says Driscoll. “The point is to learn and establish an important business relationship.”

When the informational interview is done, don’t forget to show gratitude. Always mail a handwritten thank-you note after an interview and keep your new contact updated on your job search and career progress.

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Bill Driscoll, Accountemps

Bill Driscoll, New England District President of Accountemps

Bill Driscoll is the New England District President of Accountemps, a division of Robert Half, and is based in the company’s Boston office. Bill oversees professional staffing services for Robert Half’s 23 offices throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island and portions of New York. Bill is considered a local and national expert on recruiting practices, hiring and job search trends, and other workplace issues.

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Posted September 09, 2015 by

Women in the Workplace Bring Diversity

Women in today’s workplace continue to reach new heights. However, they are still striving for advancement in areas such as leadership. While men are typically hired more often for executive jobs, some employers may be underestimating what women can offer if hired for these positions.

To help explore these issues, College Recruiter is hosting a College Recruiting Bootcamp on LGBT and other diversity hiring issues on Tuesday, September 29th at the Twilio headquarters in San Francisco. Join us.

Prior to that event, we’ll publish the opinions from a number of talent acquisition and recruiting leaders about why and how employers should diversify their workforces. In today’s article, Dr. Ya-wen Yang of Wake Forest University School of Business shares her thoughts on research concerning the affects of gender diversity in leadership in the workplace. (more…)

Posted April 20, 2012 by

Obstacles to Company Innovation

Employers, are you wondering what is keeping your company from producing the next big thing?  Here is your chance to find out.

 

The biggest roadblocks to organizational breakthroughs are a shortage of fresh thinking and too much red tape, according to executives interviewed for a recent Robert Half survey. More than one-third (35 percent) of chief financial officers (CFOs) said a lack of new ideas is the greatest barrier to their company being more innovative. Approximately one-quarter (24 percent) of respondents cited excessive bureaucracy as the top creativity killer, while 20 percent blamed being bogged down with daily tasks or putting out fires. (more…)

Posted November 17, 2011 by

Want to Be a CEO? Act Like One.

The Big CheeseDid you know that chief executive officers and other company leaders are more likely to part their hair to the right, bring their lunch from home, drive a SUV, wear navy blue and are right-handed? A new survey on “Emulating the Big Cheese” provides fun insights about the habits and characteristics of those who work in the corner office. The study was conducted from August 16, 2011 to September 8, 2011 and included more than 550 hiring managers in senior leadership positions (CEO, chief financial officer, chief operating officer, senior vice president, etc).

Typical office attire

A majority of those in senior management said they wear business casual attire to the office, and some even noted jeans or shorts as typical workplace wear. Business suit was the least popular choice. (more…)

Posted November 28, 2008 by

Hitting the Ground Running

Survey Shows Increasing Productivity Top Challenge For New Financial Managers
There is no performance grace period for the president-elect in his first 100 days, nor for new financial managers, who are expected to produce results immediately, a new survey suggests. Nearly one-third (30 percent) of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed cited increasing productivity as the top challenge faced in their first 100 days on the job. Boosting profitability was the second most common response, cited by one in five (20 percent) executives.
The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources and conducted by an independent research firm. It was based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CFOs across the United States.

(more…)