The purpose of an informational interview is to get information about a field of work from someone who has firsthand knowledge. Seems simple enough. Unfortunately, some people approach informational interviews as informal interviews and don’t do enough advance preparation. Here are four tips that will help get you in the right frame of mind if you’re about to interview an industry insider:
- Do not ask for a job. The people you’re interviewing are aware that you’re looking for work, but they didn’t agree to interview you for a position. They agreed simply to provide you with information about their position, organization, and/or industry. Informational interviews can and sometimes do lead to job offers, but it’s not your place to ask for one.
- Approach the interview like a dress rehearsal for a job interview. Imagine questions you’ll be asked and prepare your answers. Have stories to tell about challenges you’ve faced in the past and how you overcame them. These stories should be engaging and memorable, but concise.
- Don’t talk too much. You should be prepared to answer questions, but your principal role is to ask them. Interview subjects expect to be asked good and interesting questions, and they expect to be given ample time to answer. They want to reflect on their career paths and pass along advice they picked up along the way. Let them be the stars of the show.
- Networking is not free; it is built on reciprocity. The people helping you today may be reaching back to you when you are in a position to help. The mistake many people make is thinking that building a network is a onetime event. If you use it as a onetime event, you can expect many closed doors to you the next time you need support. Report back to the people you’ve interviewed periodically–both on your career progress and with ideas, articles, or opportunities they might find of interest.
In addition to following these four tips, pick up a copy of Never Eat Alone. It’s a must-read before beginning the informational interviewing process.
How much Klout do you have?
Klout measures your level of influence online. To achieve a high Klout score, you must drive action online (by getting lots of “likes” and comments on Facebook and LinkedIn, retweets on Twitter and reshares on Google+, for instance). Just generating online content isn’t enough; people have to engage with your content. The exact calculation of Klout scores is a bit murky, but your score can give you a quick barometer of your social media savvy and the quality of your content. Search firms and Human Resource departments are using Klout quite a bit now, and that’s reason enough to be aware of your Klout.
The average Klout score is 20; the highest possible is 100. According to the articles I have read, you should aim to get a score over 40. If you are in very public position, your number should be higher (over 60). Here are some random scores: The Aflac Duck has a Klout score of 49 because of his tweeter volume, Warren Buffet has a 58, and Gregg Steinhafel, CEO of Target, has no Klout score (I hope he does not find himself in search for a new gig after scoring a bull’s-eye).
Klout.com’s clout is growing. If you want yours to, too, make sure you know your Klout score and try to improve it.