What are informational interviews?
Informational interviews go by many names, including, quite simply, coffee chats. They’re an opportunity to informally gather information about a job that you’re interested in, an industry that you’re interested in, or one of your target companies.
I often describe informational interviews as the secret sauce” in an effective job search.
Most of my clients are really intimidated by these meetings.
I’ll tell you what I tell them.
If someone approached you and said, “I really admire the work that you do. I am looking to enter into your field. Would you mind if I bought you coffee and asked you for some advice?”
My guess is that if you had time, you’d probably say “of course!”
People generally really enjoy giving advice.
And that’s exactly what you’re asking for in an informational interview. ADVICE. Not a job.
How to request an informational interview
The best way to land an informational interview is by sending an InMail or email to a person of interest. I’ve found that if you can establish a warm connection to the person, you are more likely to get a response. This connection can be your former boss, old sorority sister or friend of
your Uncle Bill– having a name in the email can significantly improve a response rate.
If you do not have a connection to the person– maybe you identified them on LinkedIn when you were creating your target list of companies because admire the work that they do or the company that they for– then the key to getting a response is to make the person feel “special” or unique. The odds of getting a busy person to respond to an email that feels like a copy/paste
email that you sent to 500 other people is LOW. You have to start the email with a hook and if possible mention something relevant and personal.
How do you make someone feel “special”?
See if the person you want to connect with has written any blog posts, been on any podcasts or written on LinkedIn.
Did they go to the same undergrad? Did you both spend a summer abroad in France? Are you involved with the same nonprofit?
Sample informational interview email requests
Sample # 1: Informational interview request if you recently relocated to the area
I hope that this e-mail finds you well. I recently relocated back to the Columbus area. In doing some research on CrossChx, I read your blog post, “Will Work for Kilobots” & like your straight-forward, informative & innovative approach to business. I’m a marketing leader with specific experience in brand development and management. The work you are doing is really interesting to me. I imagine you are extremely busy—would you have time for a 20 minute informational meeting with me? I’d love to ask you a few questions about the local market & other rising start-ups that might have a future need for an entrepreneurial-minded marketing director.
Thank you for your time,
Sample # 2: Someone who works for a target company
I hope that this email finds you well. I am a regular listener of Bruce Marable’s EmployeeCycle podcast. I stumbled upon your podcast last week and found myself jotting down notes as I was listening. I loved your ideas around on-boarding remote employees.
I am a senior technical recruiter who is also passionate about intentionally recruiting the best talent and creating an employee experience that breeds creativity and high productivity. The work you are doing is really interesting to me. I imagine you are extremely busy—would you have time for a 20 minute informational meeting with me? I’d love to learn more about your career and if you are willing, advice on how to position my experience to hiring managers of innovative start-ups. I know your office is near the Philz coffee on front. I’d love to treat you to a mint mojito coffee or caffeinated beverage of choice.
Thank you for your time,
Sample # 3: New graduate example
I am a senior at the University of Georgia double majoring in Finance and Management Information Systems. I found your name through the Terry College of Business alumni directory and was impressed with your background. I also noticed that you also double majored in Finance and MIS.
I’m graduating in May and am starting my job search in the Atlanta area. Many of my classmates have gone on to work for Salesforce, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and Home Depot Corporate. While I admire those
companies, I’m more interested in a tech startup. I saw your profile on LinkedIn and noticed that you’ve have a track record of working with successful early stage startups. I wondered if we might be able to set a time for a quick 20-30 minute meeting where I could ask you some questions that will help me prepare for the search ahead of me. I’m happy to come to your midtown office if that is the most convenient place for us to meet.
I look forward to hearing from you.