An Informational Interview is a meeting in which a job seeker asks for career and industry advice rather than employment. The job seeker uses the interview to gather information on the field, and to find employment leads and expand their professional network. This differs from a job interview because the job seeker asks the questions. The term was coined by Richard Nelson Bolles, author of the best-selling career handbook, What Color Is Your Parachute? There may or may not be a specific employment opportunity available. Nevertheless, job interview etiquette is expected.
Informational interviews are initiated by the job seeker.  There are many avenues the job seeker may pursue to obtain the informational interview. Career and social networking, newspaper want ads, job boards, placement services, company websites, trade association and professional meetings, human resource contacts, professors and teachers, job search engines, and professional recruiters.
Etiquette for Informational Interviews
Because the job seeker initiates the interview, and the person being interviewed is the professional doing a favor by being interviewed by the job seeker,  it is important to be mindful of guidelines of informational interview etiquette, in addition to etiquette for traditional interviews:
- prepare with research about the industry and the individual;
- arrange a time and place convenient to the professional;
- set a short time for the discussion (15 minutes is not unusual);
- have business cards available;
- dress appropriately;
- arrive promptly;
- ask well-prepared questions;
- offer to terminate the meeting at the end of the agreed time;
- offer to pay any bill associated with the meeting (from coffee to dinner tab); and
- write a personalized thank you note, preferably on stationery.
- About.com: Job Searching: Informational Interview
- Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Summer 2002 Informational interviewing: Get the inside scoop on careers by Olivia Crosby
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