Conduct the Interview Professionally
1. Listen carefully and try to ask the questions most important to you. Be aware of your contact’s time constraints.
2. It is not appropriate to set up an informational interview, and then ask directly for an internship or job. You may ask for advice about how to get relevant experience, how to start your job search, or how to get appropriate training. If you positively impress contacts, they may refer or recommend you when they hear of job openings.
3. At the close of the interview, thank your contact for his or her time. Don’t forget to ask if s/he knows of other people who might help you with further information or different perspectives. Provided you make it clear that you’re not trying to get a job through this particular interview, it is acceptable to ask in a general way if your contact knows of any job openings, or if s/he would keep you in mind upon learning of openings.
5. Follow up if you want to be remembered.
6. Always send a thank-you letter within two to three days of your visit. Although everyone knows they’re supposed to do this, many people just don’t bother, making those who do really stand out. Mention parts of your talk that you enjoyed and advice you found helpful. If possible, include what you plan to do with the information you received. For instance, you might be able to say that you have already set up another informational interview with someone recommended by this contact. Be sure your letter is written well: no typos, misspellings, incorrect grammar, etc. Your letter will make an impression, and you want that impression to be positive.
7. Keep a record of all your contacts. You may need to speak with them again at another point in your job search. You can keep networking information on index cards, in a binder or even on your computer – whatever works best for you. Include such data as your contact’s address, phone, email, dates of contact, advice offered, names and phone numbers of people they suggested you call, and the date you mailed your thank-you note.
8. Finally, write again in a month or two restating how their advice helped you, and letting them know how your information gathering/job search is going.
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