Purpose and Proper Use of an Entrepreneurial Informational Interview
Informational interviews have grown in popularity over the last few years. This can be attributed to the fact that employers are understanding the importance of getting to know the employee past the surface level and truly understanding how the individuals think, what drives them and their work ethic. Along with informational interviews in general, several sub categories have also developed, including entrepreneurial informational interviewing. This form of interview serves a specific purpose for a certain type of worker. Check out a breakdown of this specific type of interview and how both parties can effectively utilize it.
The informational interview in general is somewhat similar to a traditional interview; however it has its own unique elements. Many of the same general inquiries are asked initially, such as "Tell me about yourself," as well as questions that would evaluate the individual's knowledge of both the company and position. Along the way, informational questions are also scattered in. These questions tend to be both situational and unique. No two interviewees will answer these questions exactly the same. However, there are a few things that the interviewer should look for:
- Intelligible answers
- Clear thought patterns
- Supporting examples
- Consistency (between related answers)
Just as interviewers should look for these aspects in an answer, interviewees should make sure that they incorporate these things in their response. A well-crafted answer should also include the individuals' education, skills, and character traits that relate to the position that is being applied for.
Entrepreneurial Informational Interviewing
In positions where companies are looking to hire or contract entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial informational interviewing may be used. This process incorporates all of the aforementioned elements, but also adds in an entrepreneurial-focused line of questioning. Some common questions that may be asked include:
- How did you come up with the idea for your business?
- How many hours a week do you work?
- Walk me through your typical day.
- Have you gained any profit from your company?
- What advice would you give to individuals planning to start their own business?
- How do you define success?
This line of questioning proves to be beneficial for both the interviewer and interviewee. When working with entrepreneurs, employers are not usually looking for the traditional worker. As such, the relationship can be compared to more of a business-to-business relationship rather than an employer-employee relationship. Therefore, the parties will want to have a clear understanding of what is being offered and what will be expected on both ends. This form of interviewing helps to accomplish just that.
How to Use It
When performing this type of interview, an interviewer should take some time to compile a list of questions to ask. These questions should incorporate some of the common entrepreneurial informational questions as mentioned above, as well as those related specifically to the task that the company is hiring for. The interviewer should make sure that the list is varied and covers a wide range of related topics. When conducted the interview, the individual should let the line of questioning be fluid by making inquiries that coincide with the answers that the candidate gives, when possible.
Interviewees should be prepared to answer informational questions that they will most likely face. Similar to the interviewer, they should compile a list of common questions and develop intelligible answers ahead of time. Also, interviewees should use this type of interview to not only market themselves as proper candidates, but they should also use them to evaluate the company culture. Granted, a prepared interviewee will have conducted research on the company and position ahead of time. However, there are some aspects of a company that are better evaluated in person. When given the opportunity, they should ask follow up questions at the end of their answers to see if their mindset truly matches that of the company.
In today's job market, there are more opportunities where employers are seeking entrepreneurial-minded employees and contractors. In properly selecting these individuals, interviewers must conduct their interviews a bit different. Utilizing entrepreneurial informational interviewing is a great way to do just that. On the other hand, those seeking entrepreneurial type positions should be knowledgeable of this type of interview style and form of questioning, and prepare themselves so that they can make the best impression possible. By understanding the aforementioned information and hints, both the interviewer and interviewee can be prepared for a successful interview.