We love informational interviews. To death. But if you’re not sure how to navigate ‘em, check out Joe Grimm’s (of Ask The Recruiter fame) ten-minute segment on WNYC.
Highlights from the reel include what to expect from an informational interview (“Rather than coming prepared to answer questions you should be coming prepared to ask questions”) and what good stock questions to ask. Hint: “Don’t ask me when the company was formed.”
Do you treat an informational interview the same as a job interview? In the sense that you dress up, show up on time, etc., yes; otherwise, no.
And don’t, Grimm says, be intimidated by asking for an interview. “What bigger compliment,” he asks, “is it to tell someone, I want to pick your brain, tell me about your industry’?”
Near the end of the show a commenter asked how to tell when such things were legit—she said she was a graphic designer on informational interviews that turned into “steal my portfolio” interviews. Grimm’s response was, essentially, “That’s terrible.” Which is true. We’d add, though, that thanks to the infinite communication potential of the Internet, you can avoid many (though probably not all) such scams by just doing a little research…ask around and see what looks good. Also, usually, but not always, in an informational interview, you’re the one doing the approaching.