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. Study your interviewee’s Linkedin profile carefully (the profile contains the seeds of their story).
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.
- What do you do in the course of the week, and what specific skills do you need?
- What 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?
- What are 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 __?
Closing strong is critical. Thank your interviewee sincerely; show you really listened by referencing their specific insight(s). 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 “Common Ground Networking” on our Insights page.