Career Resources

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Informational Interviews: Make it easy for them to say "Yes!"

In the past couple of weeks, I have been approached by two people to do informational interviews. Unfortunately, they were not executed in the best possible way to ensure a response.  Continue reading to see how you can avoid making these same mistakes.

One person left me a voice-mail message asking me if I would call her back. Because I am so busy, hardly ever use the phone anymore,  and communicate primarily through email, the chances that I will call her back are pretty slim.  She also didn't provide enough information about herself in the message so I really had no clue who was calling and why.

Later, a student who was writing an article for her school newspaper contacted me to get my perspective on the job market for college students. She did use email, which was better, but she listed her questions in the  email, which I was supposed to write out answers to. I found this approach to be somewhat impersonal and a significant time commitment.  It would have been much better if she had instead asked me if I had 15 minutes to discuss her questions, either in person or over the phone.  If she had, I would have gladly told her when I was available.

Do I want to help these people? Absolutely! Being a career counselor, obviously it's in my nature to want to help. If they had only made it easy for me to respond to them, things would have turned out a lot differently.

I always teach my students to send an email when contacting someone for an informational interview. Most people find it quick and easy to respond to an email. When reaching out to others for an informational interview, your goal should be to arrange a mutually convenient time where you can ask your questions, either in person or over the phone.  You should never put your list of questions in the email.  In your email, you can also state a little bit about yourself so the respondent has a basic idea of who you are and why you're contacting him or her.

Remember:  They're the ones doing you the favor so you need to do whatever you can to make it easy for them to help you.  By following my advice, you'll increase your chances of receiving a resounding "Yes!" to your request for information.


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