Now that you’ve made the connection by reaching out to potential future boss and set up an informational interview, what can you do to shine???
Over-prepare. This meeting with the department is their first impression of you. Make sure you are prepared. Don’t ever “wing it.” I made the big mistake of “winging it” once and it was bad. Not only did I look unprofessional, I damaged my reputation with that person and lost an opportunity to meet with them again.
Have a list of pre-written questions. Do some research about the department before showing up. You’ll get a chance to go deeper in the meeting. The pre-research gives you some talking points and allows you to come up with some great questions.
Update your resume. Have a copy of an updated resume in case you are asked for one. Also, offer to send a digital copy of your resume in a follow up email. (Don’t offer to give them a copy of your resume if you haven’t been asked. The primary goal of this meeting is to make a connection.)
Make a connection. Informational interviews are more relaxed than real interviews. Find a way to genuinely connect with them. This can be done by taking note of the things they’re wearing, items on their desk, photos, collections, almost anything.
You can start the conversation by saying, for example, “That’s a cool poster…”,
(wait a moment,)
then allow them to talk. Chances are, they’ll tell you the story of how they got that poster. Let your personality shine and be professional at the same time.
Other Ambitious Tips:
- Come to the meeting with a portfolio and pen to take notes.
- Dress nicely.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Ask if you can reach out to a suggested contact or if they can make an introduction. Both methods are also acceptable.
- Send a follow-up email within 24 hours of the meeting.
Using these tactics, I’ve been able to make a connection with more than 75% of the people I’ve done informational interviews with. For most of them, I’ve had subsequent meetings and gained many mentors. Using this approach you’ll make a HUGE investment of your time.
Once you start meeting managers, directors and other executives with influence it’ll be worth all the time you’ve put into it. It was very inspiring for me to meet so many talented people that have drove me to embark on this journey.
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What else can you do to rock your informational interview? Who has inspired you to pursue a leadership role?
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