As a senior starting to get serious about my job search, I decided I wanted to do something that would not only better prepare me for the application and interview process, but also give me advice about my industry of interest.
Informational interviews are ways to gain a better understanding of both the industry as well as the culture of that industry from someone who has experience working in it. The interviewee doesn’t necessarily have to have held the same position as you are looking to pursue in order to give good advice. I decided that a person in my network who worked more than 20 years at my top target company would give me the most relevant information. I had conducted several informational interviews in the past at my internship and have learned that it is always best to come prepared with questions.
To prepare questions, it’s important to decide on what you would like to get out of the interview. What advice or information can this person give you that would help you decide whether or not this industry seems like a good fit for you? I wanted to learn more about the company culture and how important an MBA vs. designations are at that company. I also wanted to hear more about their career path and how they got to where they are today. Some questions I prepared for my informational interview:
- Tell me more about your career path.
- What are your thoughts on an MBA vs. designations in the insurance industry?
- When would you recommend taking the GRE or getting an MBA?
- Do you have any advice on being successful in this industry?
- Knowing what you know today, would you have done anything differently in your career path?
View the Center for Career Development’s Informational Interviewing & Job Shadowing supplement for some sample questions.
The main takeaway from the meeting was the incredible advice this person gave me about not only the insurance industry but also the professional world as a whole:
- Networking is largely important
- Take risks but make sure they are calculated
- Help people and be a collaborative player – the key concept in your success is your reputation
- Be engaged and ask questions
- Deliver results in a way that fits into the company
The Center for Career Development has many resources like Husky Mentor Network to help you identify an appropriate professional to interview. Schedule an appointment with a career coach for more information about informational interviewing and networking.