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A Few Ideas About Informational Interviews (VIDEO)

A few ideas about how to use informational interviews more effectively.


I wanted to talk with you today about informational interviews. I know you know the part where they are not about asking for jobs. However, they are about building relationships. Let's talk about a few simple approaches to them.

If you going to be reaching out to someone to ask them to introduce you to someone on LinkedIn, for example, give them an idea of the questions you want to be asking this person. I sometimes receive messages from people on LinkedIn asking me to introduce them to so-and-so. They tell me that they want to do an informational interview or pick their brain about something. I don't know if that's can be a way a worthwhile use of their time, but if you say to me that you like to talk with them about (not finding a job) have their field is developing or how they got to their firm or how they see trends are going… Stuff along those lines that is not an abusive use of time, I'd be happy to provide an introduction. I can forward these questions to the person at the time I reach out to them. I think on LinkedIn that's a great approach , but it works in the off-line world is well.

2. After you meet or speak with someone, instead of the email thank you note, take the time to write and mail a thank you note. Hand write it assuming your handwriting is good, of course. If your handwriting normally isn't good, take the time to slow down and make sure that it is legible. I hand written note is a nice touch.

I don't believe I hand written note is ideal after a "real interview" because time is of the essence and you don't have time to mail it before they make a decision. Since you're not applying for a job, per se, what you're doing is picking someone's brain and opening dialogue with them that, hopefully over time, allow them to feel comfortable to refer you, feel comfortable hiring you are talking with you about being hired. It's a relationship building tool and since time is not of the essence a handwritten card is a nicer touch.

3. Sometimes during an informational interview, you want to create the circumstances and conditions for reciprocity. I think it is an important strategy that people too often neglect. They instead, think it is all about "me." This is about what I need. And they forget to ask, "Is there anything I can be doing to help you with? I don't know if you see my background or not , but this is what I do." This opens up the possibility that they might want to pick your brain for ideas.

Here's a fun approach. If there's something that you are asked about that you don't really know, instead of simply saying, "Sorry, that's not really my turf," circle back after you have done the research and after you have taken the time to think and let this person see what you've researched and found out for them. Give them something back, even if you have taken more time than they have.


Do you think it is impressive, especially if the quality of what you've done is good? Do you think creating an impression is great? That's what you trying to doing all of this is create an impression with someone AND receive information. It's a two-way street here and you want to take advantage of the opportunity.

That's my even if their 1st question or their 5th question is something you don't know, go back to them afterwards, having done the homework, find out and dig deep. Putting effort and give it back to them. Say something like, "I was thinking about our conversation, I know I came up blank on your questions about such and such. I did a little homework and this is what I found."

You could do this on a real job interview as well, but normally it would not be enough to get over the hump and get yourself back into consideration. Informational interviews, since you are not being evaluated for a job, you will create the impression of tenacity and perseverance and effort which so few people demonstrate these days.

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves life coaching, as well as executive job search coaching and business life coaching. offers great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.

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