4 Tips To Ace An Informational Interview

4 Tips To Ace An Informational Interview

You’ll hear the word "networking" quite often in Washington, D.C. I myself have heard it from many people: my supervisor, my TWC LEAD Instructor, and even more often, my colleagues. Being a “young professional” requires you to open your network and when you're in a big city like D.C. this seems even more important.

 

TWC encourages students to always reach out and connect with new people. One of the assignments that every student has to do is to conduct two informational interviews. Now, this might sound like an uncomfortable task to a lot of students who are more reserved and shy. So, I’m dedicating this blog post to some tips that might help you ease through these interviews.

 

1. Do Your Homework

And by that, I mean do some research. Choose the people you’re going to interview wisely, because this is a great opportunity for you to connect with someone who is in your field of interest. Once you already have your people in mind, get to know them through their LinkedIn, Google search, and their company’s website.

 

This is a good way for you to get a better idea of the people you’ll be talking to, and you might even find someone interesting or in common with you so that you can use it to connect with them more easily. For example, one of the people I interviewed is a CEO of a finance firm specializing in services to the agriculture sector. Because I was born in Vietnam, a very agrarian country, we had a lot to talk about and the conversation was very natural thanks to our common knowledge.

 

Courtesy of Lynda.com

 

2. Show Up Prepared

Come prepared with questions and a serious attitude. It’s always good to have some fixed questions in your pocket that you can fall back on, in case the conversation goes into a dead end. It also shows that you are prepared and know what you’re doing.

 

Carrying a serious attitude with you to an informational interview is very important. Treat this interview as no less important than a job interview because you never know when an informational interview might open doors for a lot of opportunities in the future.

 

3. Dress To Impress

It is unquestionable that first impression is crucial, and first impressions are often based on the way you look. It is always better to overdress than to underdress and business casual attire or more is recommended. Dressing nicely also shows respect to the person you’ll be talking to. Not to mention that you’ll feel much more confident in yourself when you are dressed in a nice outfit.

 

This ties tightly to the serious attitude that I mentioned above. If the people you’re interviewing see that you are prepared appearance-wise and attitude-wise, it’s more likely that you’ll leave them with a very good first impression.

 

Courtesy of Purdue CCO

 

4. Don’t Forget To Show Gratitude

Remember, you are asking these people for an interview and they do you a favor by sparing their time and answering your questions. Show your gratitude by sending an email the day of the interview (or a day later). Mailing a handwritten thank you note later on is even better. Gratitude goes a long way! You’ll stand out as a thoughtful person if you remember to do this one small action.

 

I hope that these tips will help you prepare yourself for your future informational interviews. You may be surprised where these opportunities might take you. Good luck! And see you next week.

 

Read Sean's previous blog posts

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