Earlier in my college career, I always wondered what the point of an informational interview was. I didn’t really understand why you would want to call someone about their position and how that would affect your ability to receive an internship or job.
As a junior, I tried to engage in phone conversations with people from the companies I was applying to. Initially, I didn’t see anything come from these because I didn’t know or feel comfortable with asking someone for help within my own internship search process.
As a senior, I can confidently say that one of the major reasons why I have received a job is because of informational interviews. Engaging with someone from the company after applying to your job or internship is one of the best ways you can set yourself apart from the other candidates, but it also allows you to understand if the company is right for you.
During my job search this past fall, I changed my tactic around informational interviews and Leslie Hoover helped me formulate questions that were appropriate for the job, but also were interesting to hear about. During a Women in Business meeting this fall, I was lucky enough to hear from Susan B. Whiting, who is an extremely successful alum from Denison. A piece of advice that she gave me, that I think everyone should know, is that when you ask for help be direct. The individual you are talking to is busy. Ask questions that are helpful to you and your process with understanding them, their position, and their company, but when asking for further help it is always best to ask directly.
Informational interviews are so beneficial to the student because you are able to expand your network, build connections, and grasp the job you are applying to more fully. If nothing else, it exposes you to another person’s career and widens your perspective on what is possible, so take as many opportunities to reach out to a previous connection, a Denison alum, or someone who works for the company/organization you are applying to.
Here are some questions that were my go-to’s during informational interviews:
- Why did you choose X (the workplace, company, organization’s name, etc.)?
- What is the company culture like at X (the workplace, company, organization’s name, etc.)?
- Tell me about your time with X (the workplace, company, organization’s name, etc.)?
- What is your favorite/least favorite thing about your position?
- What does your day-to-day routine look like?
- What does the training process look like for an entry-level position?
- What was the hardest part of transitioning into your job/internship?
- Do you have any helpful suggestions for the application process?
- Do you have any contacts that you think would be helpful to reach out to network further with?
- When applying for a position, check to see if Denison has any connections with that corporation or organization. If you are not a part of Denison’s LinkedIn community go join and search for Alumni on Denison’s LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/school/denisonuniversity/people/.
- Say thank you!!! The individual is taking time out of their day to talk to you – be kind and respectful. Thank them for their time and help.
- Not every informational interview is going to be amazing, but they are all helpful and practice for making connections.