Informational interviews are an amazing tool for pursuing your career. By putting yourself in the interviewer position, and asking industry veterans and leaders questions, you are able to gain a significant amount of profound insight into how breaking into a career works and other valuable advice on how to succeed. The goal of an informational interview is simply to gain information. Unlike most interviews, you are not trying to land a job or secure a position with a company. In this way, it is entirely positive, where you have nothing to lose if the interview does not go smoothly, but everything to gain if it is successful. The first step toward scheduling this kind of interview is to send an informational interview letter.
Sending a letter to whomever you are hoping to interview is the best way to secure a portion of their time to ask them some questions. There are many benefits for taking this extra step in the process. Your chances of getting a response are greatly increased if you send a physical letter. It is very difficult to actually get through to your potential interviewee with a phone call or email.
Additionally, the meeting set up from an informational interview letter is much more likely to result in a job offer than simply sending a resume to a company, even though the purpose of the interview is not to secure a position. Some studies show that as many as one in every 12 letters result in a job offer.
Lastly, through your interview, you will be establishing a stronger network and series of references. The relationships that you establish could be very valuable, even if you end up working with a different company. If nothing else, the insight you gain will help you when interviewing for a job at a later time.
Knowing what to put in your letter is the most difficult part. The following are some basic guidelines to help you create an effective informational interview letter. Remember that it is important that your letter includes many specifics from your situation.
This is an example of what your letter can look like:
Diagnostic Psychiatry Associates
81217 S. Division
San Diego, CA 92114
Dear Mr. Walker:
I am currently a student of UC San Diego School of Medicine, studying psychiatry. My graduation will be at the end of next semester, and I am hoping to begin work in a related field shortly afterward. I am particularly interested in diagnostic psychiatry, which is an area you excel in. An opportunity to speak with you briefly about how you got started and how to succeed in this field would mean a lot to me.
I know you are incredibly busy, but I was hoping to schedule a time we could have an informational interview. I intend to keep it brief: no more than 25 or 30 minutes.
I will contact your office next Wednesday, the 14th, to inquire about potentially meeting. You can contact me at 619-555-7400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your time,