Do Your Homework
Before your interview, do serious online research about the company and the person. Google the company to learn about their products, services, leadership, financial report card, press releases, etc. Take notes. The goal here is to mention specific points during your interview like: a cool quote form their CEO or a recent partnering agreement intended to strengthen their go-to-market strategy. Study your interviewee’s Linkedin profile carefully (the profile contains the seeds of their story). Again, take notes on specific points to bring up later.
Your Questions Say A Lot About You
Next, prepare good questions. Don’t expect to ask one question and sit back and listen, or that you will be answering questions. This interview is much more about you learning about them, not them learning about you (or you selling yourself). The following questions should spark ideas for you. Make it personal! Adapt your questions to your interviewee’s role.
- Talk about what do you do in the course of the week, and what specific skills do you need?
- Were there classes or activities that you undertook in college helped you most to get this job?
- What specific things have you done to network and build contacts that helped you get this job?
- Are thre some things you have done to “get your foot in the door” of a company you really wanted to work at?
- What are the next rungs up the ladder for you at __?
Know How You Will Close Before You Begin
Closing strong is critical. Remember how hard you worked on the capstone paper conclusion? Thank your interviewee sincerely; show you really listened by referencing their specific insight(s). For example, “Thanks so much for talking about the proposed CA micro-grid legislation; I’m going to learn more about that.” Send a short thank-you email that day or the next. Politely ask for recommendations of other specific companies or persons you should contact. Now, leave them alone and line up your next interview. Future events will dictate when they may get in touch with you or when you have a new reason to contact them.
If you liked this article, you may want to read, “Informational Interviews – More Buying, Less Selling,” “Informational Interviews – How to make the connection” and “Informational Interviews – Finding the Common Ground” on our Insights page.