Questions to Move Networking, Informational Interviews Forward

Aaron writes:
I understand the concept of informational interviewing but here’s my dilemma: Since you are not supposed to ask for a job in that setting what can I say or ask to plant a seed in the interviewee’s head that I’d like to be considered for a position at that company? Also how can get solid help from contacts in other networking situations?

The Career Doctor responds:
It’s true that asking for a job in an informational interview will make you seem deceitful since the premise of an informational interview is just that — to gather information about a given industry company or type of job.

One technique to use in an info interview is to ask the interviewee if he/she would be willing to take a look at your resume and ask whether it would cut the mustard if you applied to work at that company. Most interviewees would then make the connection that you are serious about wanting to work there and would either bring up any matching openings at that point or would later show your resume around and talk to colleagues about a position for you. The key in asking the interviewee to look at your resume is to have good rapport with the interviewee. If you don’t click with the person I wouldn’t ask about the resume. Also make sure they know you don’t necessarily expect a critique on the spot. Invite them to hang onto the resume and get back to you with their thoughts.

In other networking situations the 2 questions I advise should prompt most people to mention openings if they have them in their company: “I’m looking for ________ job. What advice can you give me? Any thoughts on who else I should be talking to?”

Finally the technique that is really not networking but that more directly gets at the “do you have openings” question is cold-calling. See our article on the subject.
800-652-8430 Mon- Fri 8am - 8pm CST
Sat 8am - 5pm CST, Sun 10am - 6pm CST