Information interviews are pretty popular these days. They can be a great way to learn about different roles and different organizations. These conversations, usually more casual than an actual interview, also provide a great platform for you to leave a lasting and positive impression.
But only if you are prepared.
So don’t blow it.
When someone grants you some of their valuable time, be respectful and use the time wisely. Do some thinking and research before you go. What specifically do you want to know? What knowledge do you want to take away from the meeting?
- What was the most valuable part of their education?
- How do they deal with the challenges of their job? You can show off your knowledge here by citing a particular challenge.
- Is this where they imagined they would be at this point in their career?
- What is the best piece of advice they ever got?
Notice that there are two questions that are not on the list. How do I get hired here and will you be my mentor? These questions are out of bounds for this type of conversation. They should only come up if it is initiated by the person you are meeting.
The point of the meeting is to get information, not ask for a job. Respect that. Powerful and interesting questions will allow you to make the most of your time together. And if you are going to shower, shave and put on a jacket, you want to get the best return on that investment as possible.