Information Interviewing Part II: Easy ways to set up informational interviews

Last week’s blog post talked about excuses people often use for not setting up informational interviews. Now that any excuses have been eliminated, it’s time to contact people and request a meeting.

Before doing so:

Remember the primary objective is to learn information about a profession. This isn’t a job interview. Your goal isn’t to impress the person as a candidate to hire.

Research the career field. Even though you’re trying to learn about a career, don’t waste the interviewer’s time by asking general questions such as “so what does a dental hygienist do?” You can learn the answer to this question quite easily through career exploration sites.

Check your calendar. Most informational interviews take place during regular business hours. See what days and times work best for you but remain flexible to accommodate the interviewer’s schedule, too. When scheduling a meeting, allow enough time for transportation, knowing you’ll want to arrive 15 minutes prior to the meeting.

Check your wardrobe. A business suit won’t be necessary, but business casual attire sends a positive and professional message. Ladies, does your closet have a nice pair of pants or skirt and top you can wear? Guys, do you have a collared shirt and pants (not jeans)?

When you have the name and contact information for someone it’s time to reach out. An email or letter is the best first approach. Check out the following sample email that can you can easily adapt to fit your specific needs. Notice the three important components: 1. Name of the person you’re writing; 2.The reason you’re writing; 3. Clarification that you aren’t requesting a job interview.

Ms. Ann Johnson

Dental Hygienist

Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry

 

Dear Ms. Johnson:

Hello, my name is Jane Smith and I’m a student at Central Piedmont Community College. Julie Rhodes, whose daughter is a patient at Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry, suggested I contact you.

I’m in the process of researching career options of interest to me and am considering the dental hygiene field. I’m not seeking a job interview, but was hoping I might be able to meet with you to discuss your work in the profession and preparation for it. Speaking firsthand with someone in the field provides the chance to obtain valuable insight and perspective.

I understand your schedule is busy and would appreciate 30 minutes of your time. I am happy to contact you to inquire what days and times are convenient for us to me.

Thank you in advance and I look forward to speaking with you.

Sincerely,

Jane Smith

 

After sending the email, give the person about one week to reply. If you don’t hear back feel free to resend the email or consider calling if you also have the person’s phone number.

You: Hello, Ms. Johnson?

Professional: Yes?

You: Hi, my name is Jane Smith. I’m a student at Central Piedmont Community College. I don’t know if you received an email from me last week? Julie Rhodes, whose daughter is a patient at Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry, suggested I contact you.

Professional: Okay, how can I help you?

You: I’m researching career options and am considering dental hygiene. I was wondering if you might be able to meet with me sometime for approximately 30 minutes to talk about your experience in the field?

Professional: Oh, sure I’d be happy to do that.

You: Thank you so much! Is there a day and time that works best?

Professional: Could you come to the office this Thursday at 3:00?

You: That would be perfect. Thanks again and I will see you then.

 

Once the meeting time’s established, it’s time to think about what questions to ask. We’ll provide a long list next week.