After you’ve identified who you want to meet, ask friends, family, ex-co-workers, and fellow alums if they have contacts at a certain company or a particular line of work. Utilize social networking tools, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to find contacts. In the
introduction email, keep it short and simple. Provide some background information on yourself and explain why you want to meet.
I’d recommend going for easy wins such as learning more about a company or a job function. So prepare questions such as: “What do you like about working for company X?” or “When you think about successful folks in position Y, what made them successful?”
Job seekers often ask for a job at the beginning. Resist that temptation. If the manager does have a job, asking for it at the beginning is premature, especially if you haven’t proven yourself. If he or she does not have a job, you and the manager have to
overcome the early letdown. Instead, focus on asking good questions and creating a good impression. Then, at the end, do ask if the manager is hiring, but don’t push it.
An informational interview can range from an informal career chat to a structured interview. Prepare for any scenario. Have those general career questions ready, and at the same time, don’t be surprised if the interviewer asks tough questions like, “What’s your biggest weakness?”
It’s always worth reminding: dress professionally.
Some managers use the informational interview as an informal job interview. If the manager wants to deviate from your prepared list of questions and ask you more formal interview questions, let him or her do so. Who knows? You might get a job offer at the end of the interview.
Don’t forget to send a thank-you email or note after the informational interview. In addition, send updates every couple of weeks. The manager invested time into your career; he or she will be interested in your progress. And who knows, that manager may not
have had openings a while ago, but he or she may be hiring now.