Is this the time to look for a new job? Doesn’t matter if you are a job seeker, just thinking about changing your career or you are happily employed in a company, an informational interview, by all means, is probably one of the most important stages of your job. It can help you understand the day-to-day challenges and responsibilities of a role, career, or industry and guides you to different career paths.
So how to ask for an informational interview on LinkedIn? Well, the best way is through InMails or even cold emails.
We will talk about them soon, but before that, let’s see what an informational interview is, where to find people to ask for it, what if you have no connection with that one person, how to prepare for an informational interview, how to use it the best way, etc.
Informational interview vs. Job interview
An informational interview can be the messenger that guides you to a better path, something like google Maps or Waze. Doesn’t really matter if you’ve just graduated, have a long career history, or just want to promote your business an informational interview can help you a lot.
Now, remember that you are not doing a job interview, this one is totally different, and the ultimate goal here is to help you identify the best career targets according to your interests and skills.
Some even believe that an informational interview is much better than a job interview since it is much less stressful and more insightful.
As Berkeley University says: “An informational interview is an informal conversation you can have with someone working in an area of your interest.
It is an effective research tool and is best done after preliminary online research. It is not a job interview, and the objective is not to find job openings.”
If we want to compare the two of these interviews, you are the one who is to answer the questions in a job interview, but in an informational interview, you are the one who asks the questions and the person who works in a particular industry, field, etc. that you are interested in, answers the questions.
You probably won’t be able to assess the interviewer’s characteristics in a job interview, but an informational interview is to build a two-way relationship, so both you and the other person can understand some things about each other’s character, skills, talents, etc.
Unlike in a job interview, there is a non-threatening environment for two people in the informational interviews to get to know each other.
We call a job interview threatening since the interviewer might think that he/she is wasting time on false hope, and the interviewee might get so stressed out about the situation he/she is in that they cannot show their best.
There is no hiring decision involved in an informational interview, so don’t think that you will get a job offer out of thin air during this kind of interview; just focus on having a friendly and fruitful conversation with someone you respect.
To ask for an informational interview on LinkedIn, start by finding the person you want to speak with and sending them a connection request. Once they accept, send them a message thanking them for connecting and expressing your interest in speaking with them about their experience in their field. Be sure to make it clear that you are not asking for a job, but rather looking to gain insight and advice. Ask if they would be willing to schedule a call or meeting to discuss further, and provide some suggested dates and times.
How to ask for an informational interview on LinkedIn?
There are seven steps to follow when you are requesting an informational interview, do them right, and not only have you got the interview, you also probably can get some perfect networking opportunity or even a job offer.
The steps include researching the company, creating an attractive subject, being brief, including your reasons for requesting the meeting, being flexible about the time and date, getting prepared for the meeting, and following up.
Before describing these steps, we will tell you some things to keep in mind.
- Know your positions. The interviewee is a professional, and you are the one who needs his/her knowledge.
- We are going to talk more about this one. Just know that it is better to suffice the email to 3 to 5 sentences.
- Show them that you’ve done your research.
- Inform them of the amount of time you are asking for.
Have no connection with the one person you want to interview? Follow the steps below.
- Search for that person in that company database, or google them or use the search bar on LinkedIn (consider aiming for the leaders of the industry of your interest)
- Find and/or verify their emails in or another email finder services
- Search their information online to see who they are, what they exactly do, and what their insights are, and follow them on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Try to interact with some of their connections, follow them, like their posts, and write comments on them.
- Try to find a common interest between yourself, the connections, and that one person you hope to interview.
- Send a brief e-mail and request an informational meeting.
- Send the email again if you didn’t get a response after a week.
Now, let’s go back to those main seven steps; it’s time to send that email!
1. Research, the company
People, research! It is the initial and probably the most important step. Take the company information and ensure you have the correct email address.
Review the company website and gather information. Not only is it necessary to do before sending the initial email, but it will also help you during the interview as well.
If your goal of the interview is to gather information about one specific role, make sure that you have the correct email of the correct employee.
Don’t like to use email finder services? Send an email to the general HR email address and ask for the contact information of that person.
2. Creating an attractive subject
Use an exciting subject for the email. This part can be the key element that increases your email. So try using an attractive email subject.
For example, Johan Smith’s informational interview request, or just describe your name and goal in some words.
3. being brief
Write short and be to the point. Don’t go for the cock and bull story. All you need is two to three short paragraphs to tell the recipient the goal of the informational interview so quickly.
4. Including your reasons for requesting the meeting
Tell the recipient why you want to have this interview with them. There are millions of reasons that someone who wants to have this kind of interview might have, and defining your intentions for the recipient can be very helpful.
For example, you can talk a bit about the questions you might have, like the questions about that special career, position, or educational background.
Essential skills, etc. this step can help the recipient to prepare for the questions you might ask, and it will benefit both of you.
5. Being flexible about the time and date
Be flexible about the time and date of the meeting. Suggest different times and dates to the person you want to meet with, and don’t forget to ask them if they prefer any other time. This can make the process of setting a meeting much more accessible.
6. Getting prepared for the meeting
Have a list of questions you want to ask in the meeting. It is the worst idea to walk to the interview empty-handed. I mean our brain is such a wonderful organ with capabilities beyond imagination but you’ve experienced this problem of forgetting multiple things at once.
For example, when you studied so hard for a history exam at school and you couldn’t remember a thing when you faced the question paper or when you were in a grocery store and forgot to bring a list.
Our brain is so wonderful but doesn’t like to keep the information. It feels they are redundant, and there is no use in telling ourselves that they are not. You do not make decisions for your brain, it decides for you!
So make a list of questions and keep adding new ones whenever possible.
There are two purposes for the follow-ups. First is to make sure of getting an answer, since many people do not answer these kinds of emails unless they see the follow-ups.
Second is to show your gratitude (let’s be polite) for they agreed to spend their time to sit and answer your questions. You are making it easier to keep in touch after the meeting with this follow-up.
Where to find the people to request an informational interview?
The first thing you need to do is to define your intentions for requesting an informational interview. Do you want to know about different angels of what you are about to do?
Want to find a job in that industry? Just want to make new connections with influential people in one field?
When you want to choose where and who to find for an informational interview depends on your purpose.
To clarify what you need to do next in a career, you need someone who’s already in that arena; they know what your next step should be. To find a job, connect with someone who’s working for the company you want to work for, someone with an equal or higher position than the position you are hoping for.
If your goal is just to expand your connections, find someone in your field of work or in a related industry, and make sure that it’s someone effective and who you admire.
Now, make a list of the appropriate people you want to reach out to, according to your intentions.
Make a sheet that contains the name, job title, industry, company, website, email, LinkedIn, information you’ve gathered about them, etc. then use the steps we mentioned below to connect them.
- The people you know are the priority. They are much more likely to accept your informational interview request than total strangers. Make a list of them according to their characters and features. It is also a great way to keep in touch with people who you’ve met at a conference or any special event.
- Another strategy is to ask people you know, if they know someone who you can connect with, about the matter at hand. Some of your connections may know a person who is working in the industry or the company you desire to gather information about. It also has a much more accepting chance compared to connecting with strangers.
- Research about the company, person, or industry you want to contact, using the search tab at the top left corner of your LinkedIn account. It is suggested to use hashtags and keywords to have better results. If the person you found using this method is your 2nd connection, you need to ask your first connection if they are suitable for your purpose, and if the answer is “yes,” ask them to introduce you.
- Do you have no real connections with the user you found suitable for the informational interview? No worries! Messages and cold emails are the perfect solutions for this matter, although you might have to spend a lot of them since. Unfortunately, the response rate to these messages can be lower than 10% (can be different in some industries).
The questions and beyond
When you reach out to that specific person, it’s time to prepare the question list we talked about.
You need this list since you are the person who is going to ask questions, so you need to have that list to manage the time of the interview the best way you can.
It can look insulting to go without this list since that specific person is giving you a part of her very busy time for free and it does seem very unprofessional and insulting to waste their time by getting confused for you to have no idea what to ask.
Your time is limited during these interviews so it’s better to prioritize the most helpful questions.
Keep your focus on the person you are meeting, don’t let the questions get out of their way. Make them seem like you are looking for their advice (which you are, by the way).
We are listing some questions below for you to get ideas.
- What do you think is the biggest challenge in this position?
- How should someone be divergent in this industry/role?
- Can you picture yourself in the next 5 to 10 years?
- Is there anything you wished to know or any skill you wish you had before starting this job?
- If you went back in time, would you choose to enter this company/industry/field again?
- Is there any way I can get some experience in this new field without stepping back from the level I reached in my current job?
- Do you think this company🏭 appreciates its employees’ achievements?
- What are your daily tasks in this role?
- What does this company do exactly?
- What are the company’s long-term goals?
- What skills can get you ahead in this industry/ corporate employment process?
- Is there anyone else you think I should interview with? Can you introduce me?
- How long have you been in this organization?
- What are the things you love about your job?
- What are the main rewards/disappointments of this job?
- Do you think the company progressed or regressed in recent years?
- Would you apply for the position now, if you were in my shoes?
During the meeting
ok, you have written the script, prepared the scene, and practiced the dialogues, it’s showtime. We just have some advice for you to get the most out of the informational interview.
You are there to listen, so listen carefully and don’t let anything stay unclarified, ask if you did not understand something. You are there to learn, so get the interviewee to talk.
A grave mistake is to think that you are in a tea party and start talking about yourself; this will only waste time of that meeting you’ve tried so hard to organize. YOU ARE THE LISTENER!
Pay very close attention to see if the interviewee asks you a question or offers to help you, then choose an appropriate reaction.
Just as the brain doesn’t keep all the questions in the memory, it won’t keep the answers too. So take notes. They can be some key points or follow-up items. Don’t write everything down, it will only waste your time.
Keep an eye on time; when the time you agreed upon is over, thank the interviewee for agreeing to dedicate the time to help you, and tell them how much the information can help you.
A lot of people will offer to keep answering your questions when they see the gratitude.
Remember to end the interview with these questions:
- Is there someone else you think I should talk to?
- Is there anything else you think I should’ve asked?
How to keep in touch after the informational interview is over?
It’s essential to keep the connections you made after the informational interview is over.
There may be opportunities that other people want to inform you about. In fact, many experts believe this can be the most important part of an informational interview.
Send a thank you email right after the interview and thank the interviewee for their time. To keep the connection, send another email in two weeks.
It is also suggested to write down one of the “eyes (i)” after the meeting. The what?
The “eyes (i)”
Interest: the interview should have mentioned some of his/her interests during the meeting, doesn’t matter if it is related to the position you desire or not. You might find one of them in common so write it in your following email. For instance, invite him for a chess match if he says he loves chess.
Introduction: Do you have a connection that might be valuable for the interview? Offer to introduce him/her in the follow-up email. In the meantime, you can also ask how they’ve been doing and how you’ve enjoyed that interview you had.
The informational interviews and landing a job
These interviews can be used as a perfect means to get employed in a very good position. But remember that you are entering a very long process which may take over three months to one year or even more.
Since these interviews are about establishing a genuine, two-way relationship and no good relationship gets formed over a night or even some weeks.
So do these informational interviews regularly; the network you are building will come in handy, even if you are working safe and sound in a company right now.
Who knows what the future brings?
You might think that we said the purpose of these interviews is not landing a job; why are we talking about job hunting in an informational meeting now? Yes, the purpose is not to get employed here, but why not use the things we have in hand to get to the top of this mountain?
I mean, the interviewee is the best source to know about the vacancies in that specific company; you can ask that person to pass your resume to HR directly for the job vacancy, and you’ve established a relationship with one or several people who work in that company and now you can ask them what they recommend to someone like you if you want to get employed there.
This person is the best source to inform you about the challenges and problems that the company is facing and you can tell them if you think you can help them solve these problems.
And yes, most of the company would appreciate a problem solver.
Try to expand this network in your dream company. It is suggested to meet 20 to 25 people in that corporation before applying for a job there, just to increase the chance of getting employed.
Don’t set up meetings with the staff or managers right when they are hiring for the position you want; employers hate when job seekers try to cut the line.
Don’t let the interviewee know you are job haunting. It’s just like telling that you are looking for a serious relationship, on a blind date!
Do not sound like you are pushing the interviewee for a job; employers hate being under pressure. You don’t want to look like a manipulator, do you?
Be patient and build this yellow road brick by brick. Although the interviewee might ask if you are looking for a job, during the session, you can tell them that you are looking for a perfect fit, not any job.
An informational interview is one of the best ways to get some first-hand knowledge about a job, company, or industry.
There are many things to know about asking for an informational interview on LinkedIn.
We tried to cover some angles, but there are still questions that you might have. In that case, why not comment on your question in the question box to get a decent answer from our team?